Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why the discomfort when it comes to admitting your age?

So I've observed a fairly common trend on Facebook: people listing their birthday minus the year they were born. Posting it May 22 (for example) rather than May 22, 1986. Why is that, do you think? I guess I find it slightly ironic because usually (maybe it's just me) but often the first thing people want to know when it's your birthday is "How old are you?" You know, what birthday is it that you're celebrating? Your 5th? 15th? 50th? (I'm not sure why the fives, but I'm turning 25 this year, maybe that has something to do with it.)

Anyway, I was noticing that I'm one of only two in my cohort that post the full birthday (including year), and was curious to see if this was representative of a larger population. So I started to look up some of my family and friends. That's right! YOU. You want to know what I found? Well I guess you can look for yourself on Facebook; I found it quite interesting. Maybe I should be more sensitive to people's insecurities about their age. Or maybe they didn't even give it a second thought; just preferred to be a little mysterious. What do you think? Those who post the year, why don't you mind? Those who keep that information private (not to name names, you know who you are--March 11 and November 6, etc.) was it a deliberative choice? Are you trying to keep that information (listing the year would give people all the information they need to figure out your current age, after all) out of public view?

Don't misunderstand. I love you all whether you list your birth year or not (though I admit, I'd silently think to myself "Good for you." and smile when I saw people who listed the full date). Not sure why, I just like birthdays. Always have. It's fun to celebrate life and turn the spotlight on particular people on particular days and say "I'm so glad you were born." Granted, I guess you can do that without knowing specifically what year the person was born (and thus how old they are). Perhaps I'm more the exception than the rule both in feeling fine with sharing my birth year and in wanting to know how old other people are turning on their birthdays. Either way, I'm curious to hear what you think. So comment, people. It would serve dual purposes: clarify the thought-processes driving this intriguing social media phenomenon AND encourage me to keep posting on this blog because there actually are people out there who visit me here:).


  1. Ha ha, how funny! I have no problems with telling people my age or the year I was born. I think when I posted just the month and day on Facebook it was some feeble attempt at internet security. I thought maybe that the year I was born would help people steal my identity or something. I have no idea if it's a legitimate worry or not! I'll have to look into it. :)

  2. I had to get on Facebook and see if I'd included the year with my birthday since I had no idea. I guess I'm not too private since it's on there. I have no problem with people knowing my age though it is weird we'll be turning 25 this year. If I hadn't included it it would probably have been for the reason Jennie listed.

  3. Jamie, I have always wondered the same thing! I think everyone should put the year. It shouldn't even be allowed to not include it! I guess that's just my curiosity peeking out, I like to know how old people are when I'm creepily facebook stalking them. I did go through a phase when I considered taking off the year because I was feeling self-conscious about my age, but then I got over it! Who cares if I'm only 21? I don't mind telling the facebook world.

    PS- I REALLY hope you don't stop blogging because I love reading your blog! I check it regularly and I love it when you have new posts. It just brightens my day. So you should keep it up! I love you!

  4. I suppose I don't put it mostly because it's my own personal info and I don't want it posted for the world to see (or steal). However, should any of my friends want to know how old I am, the only reason I might hesitate to tell them would be because I was trying to do the math in my head! I guess I would rather just talk with my friends face to face rather than through facebook. ...which makes me wonder why I even have a facebook :)
    p.s. Jamie, you are amAzing!

  5. I wasn't sure if my whole birthday was listed on facebook so I looked. I am proud to report that it's all there! I like people knowing how old I am, but I didn't even think about the whole security thing. Hmmm...

  6. I'm 50, so this birthday Jamie, you will be half my age for a couple weeks.
    I know this has nothing to do with the topic, oh well. If I only had a brain... :-)