Pay It Forward

Because to me the little things make a difference.

This all started with a conversation I was having with Pete prior to his birthday. He mentioned that he didn’t put it on Facebook because he wanted to see who really cared to remember. In his mind and maybe everyone’s mind saying Happy Birthday on Facebook is sort of phoning it in. I wanted to change that narrative.

To me there’s still a choice to communicate. We get bombarded by information everyday, we’re busy, we’re tired, and are living our own lives. Saying something or anything to someone is an active decision to reach out, whether it be on someone’s wall publicly or privately through messaging to say “Hey, I noticed. I see you. I celebrate you.” in the most low barrier for entry way. I mean certainly you’ve done it before, Facebook tells you it’s 3 people’s birthdays and you only say “HBD” to one of them. Facebook may be a tool for reminding or notifying you of a birthday, but this doesn’t rob you from making the gesture or decision to act.

Last year, I’m not sure if anyone noticed but I wrote a personal note back for every person who wished me “Happy birthday” and started some really wonderful conversations.

This year I made a promise to myself that for every person who messaged me before or on the day of my birthday I would donate 5 dollars to a charity, and since my company does dollar for dollar matching this would mean 10 dollars donated for every well wisher.

Pete helped me time out on average how long it would take to type out “Happy Birthday Jessica” as some folks would write more and some would write less, and some are using auto-complete in the mobile devices. The average time it takes someone to wish me this personalized Happy Birthday message is 7.6 seconds. 111 people wished me Happy Birthday before my internal cut off time, and I took the cumulative time spent from my friends ~14 minutes to research a charity and donate 1110 dollars. I decided on the American Cancer Society.

I’d like to end things with this truth: Every year I traditionally experience bad luck close to my birthday and for that reason dread it’s coming. This year nothing awful happened. To also have people en mass send simple words of celebration is the nicest feeling and I wanted to pay it forward in a meaningful way.