The Soapbox: How to give the perfect Facebook birthday greeting

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Brandi Chambless

In a day and age when grandiose kids-themed birthday parties and gender reveals are now bordering on P.T. Barnum level, the overlooked online birthday greeting seems to be diminishing in moxie for being the all-important annual statement of affection.

Through the recent years, Facebook birthday messaging and the intricacies of our online human analytics have evolved into some easily identifiable trends that are pretty humorous. See if you can find a little bit of yourself or a loved one in any one of these FB birthday messaging personality types.

  1. The Early Poster. If you receive a message the night before your birthday from your Uncle Skip from out of town and you can’t remember having an Uncle Skip, you might be encountering an Early Poster crossed with a Facebook Stalker. Beware.
  1. The Foreigner. When you get a birthday greeting from some guy in Italy that you had no idea was even in your friend group yet he seems pretty legit, this is evidence of your being an overachiever. Let’s take a day off work and instead of making six appointments each day, try cutting back to three.
  1. The Grammarian. There are entire blogposts throughout the Internet dedicated to how Americans notate two simple words. Happy Birthday. Do they just out and out say it? Happy Birthday. Or do they like to add a name. Happy Birthday Susie. With or without a comma. Happy Birthday, Susie. Or really excited like….Happy Birthday, Susie!!!!. The same three words can be enhanced for any hobby with emoticons galore. Nevertheless, dressing up the same two words seems to convey the same ordinary message. I noticed it was your birthday.
  1. The Obligitorian. HBD. Enough said. Just stop.
  1. The Name Dropper. When you receive birthday greetings such as Happy Birthday Sweet Lady, Beautiful Girl, You Bra-Burner! then you might be dealing with a Name Dropper. This might be a clever way to gain perspective on what your friends really think or it might be a full on indicator of either the greeter’s level of wit or their patience. You decide.
  1. The Jesus People. For your birthday I will say a prayer for you as my gift. You may want to private message The Jesus People a list of prayer needs, including a wish list from Target just in case they forget to pray.
  1. The Proper. Happy Birthday Mrs. Jones. That is always a very nice way to say Happy Birthday. Including full name could mean….I know you, but not that well. Or I know you, but you’re too old for me to address by your first name. Yikes!
  1. The Priest. For you I will say three Hail Marys and an Act of Contrition….Oh my God….I am heartily sorry…. What else can the priest do? He’s taken a vow of poverty so the only bottle of wine you would partake of is one at holy communion if you don’t mind drinking after a group of strangers. Probably Uncle Skip.
  1. The GIF Giver. So this person is so cheap that the only thing they decided to do for your birthday is to enter a Google search on your behalf, hit copy and paste, and Ta-Da! The perfect sentiment. Don’t laugh because you know everyone loves the perfect GIF.
  1. The Piggybacker. Piggybackers have to be categorized as the laziest human beings onplanet Earth. They could not make a concerted effort to actually go to your wall and write even an obligatory HBD. Instead, as they scroll the NewsFeed while in some meeting where the only hope of staying awake is following what is going on in the world, and OH they see it. It’s Susie’s birthday.  Someone else has written it – Happy birthday, Susie, you mean all the world to me. And the Piggybacker pops a “ditto” in there. Oh yea. Happy Birthday Susie! with an exclamation point as if to say I really mean it!!
  1. The Night Owl. Whence comes the night owl? Out at night no doubt. Here you are, shoes kicked off in the arms of the one you love. Belly full of chocolate cake and recapping the wonderful day that you enjoyed. When all of a sudden. Happy Birthday Susie, I hope you had a wonderful day! Dang spanky, I did. With or without you!
  1. The Straglers. Then there’s tomorrow. Here they come sauntering onto your page. Oh…was it your birthday. Happy Belated Birthday, Susie, guess I missed it! Is this all you’ve got? Apparently, yes.

And now, for the final parting words, the Grand Finale…How to give the perfect birthday greeting on Facebook:

Tell your friend something meaningful about themselves that nobody else has already written. It is just that simple. And not ONLY….You’re the greatest beautician this side of the Mississippi. Unless they’re actually not and you’re trying to bolster their self-esteem and they have paid you a large marketing retainer. But other than that…

The words to say would be:

Dear Susie, Happy Birthday to my best childhood friend. To the girl who had the best back-handspring in all of Mrs. Talks-A-Lots’ 3rd grade class. You were then and will always be the best charades champion AND forever beautiful inside and out.

Awww! And that, Dear Reader, is the best birthday greeting that no money can ever buy. Take the time to care. And don’t worry. We have all been all of these people. Well, with the exception of the Stalker and the Italian. Maybe.

You’re welcome.

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About The Author

Brandi Chambless

Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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