Can We Have a Little Empathy Here, Please?

Happy Birthday, Whoever You Are

And Many More . . . .

I keep discovering new ways that Facebook has changed my life. I began noticing that every time the birthday of one of my FB friends would show up in the top right corner of the page, I would take a moment to click on the person’s name and send them a greeting on their wall. At first I would note how Facebook was slowly eroding the old saw about men never remembering birthdays. Obviously, it wasn’t me who was doing the remembering but, nevertheless, I was aware of the existence of the birthday and was able to extend my wishes for an enjoyable one.

Frankly, I had always felt a little guilty about not remembering birthdays because I kind of enjoy experiencing mine. However, in all honesty the guilt wasn’t quite strong enough for me to always remember when birthdays occurred. I had made some valiant attempts, through entering the dates for most of my family in my Outlook calendar, which I transported from computer to computer over the years . . . sometimes ending up with multiple listings such that I began to tune the whole business out. Additionally, there were recurring periods where I just wasn’t very good at checking my calendar.

This has been an ongoing struggle, but it’s only been 64 years (a week from this Saturday, but I’m not fishing), so perhaps there’s hope for me yet. When I was in the corporate world, it was always one of the things I put down on the mandatory list of items I needed to work on – “improve my use of personal organizational tools to increase efficiency and effectiveness”.

Now I’ve got Facebook, which keeps improving my ability to track things I otherwise never paid much attention to. Of course, birthdays don’t exactly make all that big a difference in my professional life, so there are numerous other tools I’ve come to use. However, the concept of gathering information from my contacts, associates, friends, family, etc. such that I can keep continuously better track of the things that matter to me most, is an awesome thing. Facebook, despite whatever shortcomings we may all ascribe to it, has played somewhat of a major role in this continuous development. For that I’m thankful.

BTW – I was reminded of this cultural shift by Euan Semple, a wonderful blogger and someone I’m happy to say is a Facebook friend of mine. Euan’s birthday is today and he posted the following on his wall: “I turned off posting to my wall because of the amount of hacking Facebook was suffering but doing so just before my birthday and preventing people sending birthday wishes was a bit dumb!” I guess that about explains it for me. I am getting no small amount of joy from being able to send birthday wishes to my friends; all because of Facebook. I like to think, in some small way these acts are bringing us closer together. Has Facebook changed the way you interact with your friends, etc.?

About Rick Ladd

I retired nearly 13 years ago, though I've continued to work during most of the time since then. I'm hoping to return to work on the RS-25 rocket engine program (formerly the SSME) which will power our return to the moon. Mostly I'm just cruising, making the most of what time I have remaining. Although my time is nearly up, I still care deeply about the kind of world I'll be leaving to those who follow me and, to that end, I am devoted to seeing the forces of repression and authoritarianism are at least held at bay, if not crushed out of existence. I write about things that interest me and, as an eclectic soul, my interests run the gamut from science to spirituality, governance to economics, art and engineering. I'm hopeful one day my children will read what I've left behind. View all posts by Rick Ladd

8 responses to “Can We Have a Little Empathy Here, Please?

  • Facebook and Family. Another Plus « Systems Savvy

    […] last post was about how Facebook has made it easier for me to remember birthdays and, because of that, send […]


  • Mark Aaron Murnahan

    I am glad for handy features like Facebook’s birthday reminders. Using them is the biggest challenge for me. Of course, being a man may have a tendency to exacerbate my challenge. At least it makes it a really handy and widely expected excuse. 😀


  • Khannea Suntzu

    Facebook is a log-on tool. I am ‘khannea suntzu’. This name will be in my passport pretty soon. If facebook arbitrarily doesn’t like the name or whatever I find myself banned for using my old, facebook-derived logon for literally dozens of sites. I may in effect find myself unable to access these resources, on account of facebook whims.

    But I do not agree on your respect for ‘companies’. I think companies should be kept to far more strict standards than is currently the norm. I insist that facebook is far exceeding boundaries of decency, respect, civility and democratic accountability.


    • Rick Ladd

      By your own admission, you’re an “individualist”. This is, to me, exceedingly ironic coming from a human being – a social animal. You have set yourself apart from all others. That some of them don’t agree with you is their right as individuals, no? Deal with it!


      • Khannea Suntzu

        This might not make immediate sense for you as an american – but in the reference of my culture, we hold those who do business for us accountable.

        I suppose you don’t have a clue. Somewhere last century states started allowing private citizens to join into corporate entities. That moment these entities became secessionist and unaccountable state entities.

        I suppose my position is that was very wrong development, and here is you see why.

        I love to be an individualist but I do not want to be systemically outcompeted or marginalized or deceived by thse organized gangs that operate unaccountable within a state. States are bad enough but we need state umbrella’s to protect us from predators.

        Entities like Facebook have found a way to erode my individualism. And what’s worse, I see it, I call it and it’s clearly going wrong in font of our very eyes, and millions collaborators and entitlers think “it isn’t so bad”.


        • Rick Ladd

          I’ve been thinking and thinking about this and how to respond when I really don’t want to continue abetting your hijacking of my post for your own purposes. After all, I only suggested Facebook has a salutary effect on the propensity of men not to remember, or even think about, birthdays. How that got you going is, I suppose, anybody’s guess. I do have to say you’ve introduced another level of irony when you accuse me of not having a clue to the history of corporations, in part because I’m an American. The irony is, in my opinion, that you exhibit an “Ugly American’s” level of arrogance by your statement. You know absolutely nothing about me now, do you? Actually, that question was rhetorical. I would prefer you not answer. I don’t want to hear any more about your problems. They just don’t sit on the same area of my radar that they do for you. It’s not that I don’t care about some of the things Facebook is doing to privacy and individuality; it’s just that either I feel other concerns are of greater import, or I just don’t really give a shit about you because I find you tedious and pedestrian.

          PS – Why Suntzu? Why not von Clausewitz?


  • Khannea Suntzu

    There is a flip side. Have you ever heard of “the Great Facebook Purge?”…. It isnt so nice at all.


    • Rick Ladd

      The only Facebook purge I remotely care about is when (and if) Facebook takes down the pages of real activists; people who are making a difference in their communities and who, for some reason, incur the wrath of some branch of other of the government. Now that’s a purge worth getting riled up about. Maybe you should consider a fan page.

      I may be guilty of a little insensitivity here, but I’m afraid I am having a hard time getting worked up about a company (and remember, this isn’t a public utility we’re talking about, though it sometimes seems as though it is one) establishing rules to ensure people remain reasonably genuine in their engagement with their offering.

      PS – Nymious does not seem to be a word, though I’m all in favor of creativity and neologisms.


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