Today is my birthday. But if you’re one of my 1,200+ Facebook friends, you already know that, because Facebook broadcasts the news. And I love it! My eight Facebook birthdays to date have been among my favorites.

But the cynics in the crowd will grumble and complain that the cornucopia of well-wishes that pile up on our profile pages on our special day are just one more example of the shallow connections fostered on social media, because really, how could any of us truly know all of those “friends”, or even the dozens who post birthday wishes to our profile pages?

Well, sure. But then there’s this.

  1. It really is fun to log onto Facebook and read all those birthday wishes, even if I haven’t actually met every well-wisher in the bunch. (Really, I’d like to.)
  2. Lots of those greetings actually are from people I deeply love and care about. And lots are from people I care about but rarely see, so it’s a treat to hear from them. And lots are from people I’d love to get to know more. So thank you…every one.
  3. And even better–on the 364 days that are NOT my birthday–FB reminds me that several of my FB friends are celebrating their birthdays. That gives me the opportunity to send some birthday love their way. And that feels good, because I know I’ll help add to their Facebook-Birthday glow.

And it could be even better:

Here are some ways to make the Facebook Birthday ritual even more meaningful. To start with, don’t just reflectively post “Happy Birthday” on the birthday girl or boy’s timeline. Instead, take a mindful moment to make the experience count. After all, acts of kindness are gifts to both the giver and the receiver. So try some or all of these tips next time Facebook reminds you it’s a friend’s birthday:

  1. If you are the type to ignore the Facebook-generated reminder that it’s a friend’s birthday, reconsider. A little birthday love goes a long way.
  2. Rather than mindlessly posting a few words to a friend’s timeline, take a moment to reflect on that person, and think of what you appreciate about them. Ask yourself: Why did I choose to be friends (even if it’s only Facebook “friends” with that person anyway? Then …
  3. In addition to posting a basic Happy Birthday message or stock emoji, considering adding a few more words to your post. Give the person a shout-out for one of their attributes that you admire. This doesn’t have to be a long-involved soliloquy. A quick, “Happy birthday to someone who inspires me!” or “Happy birthday to a kind and generous soul,” will do the trick.
  4. If the birthday girl or boy is someone whose friend request you accepted in a weaker moment, even though you don’t know them, wish them a Happy Birthday, anyway. It never hurts to throw some random wishes for happiness into the friend-o-verse, so why not.

Don’t Wait for a Birthday to Spread Some Love

Gifting friends with a few kind words feels so good, it’s a shame to wait for a birthday to roll around to do it. So, what if in addition to reminding us each day that several of our friends are having birthdays, FB reminded us each day that there are several people among our friends who we should randomly APPRECIATE!

Facebook could send out daily “Thank-A-Friend” suggestions using one of their mysterious algorithms–just as they now do when they suggest people we might want to add as FB Friends, or FB groups we might like to join.

But why wait? In the meantime, we could just do it ourselves. Decide today to choose three people from your Facebook Friends list and post a message on their page saying why you appreciate them.

If the people lead, maybe Facebook will follow.

These days it seems like hate is going viral. So, fill the world (starting with your social media feed) with love and appreciation until there’s little room for anything else. Share this post on your timeline, and tag three friends you appreciate, and tell them why.

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Originally published at on February 12, 2016.