A Year of Turning 40 on Facebook


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Today I got my weekly Sunday reminder from Facebook informing me that three of my high school and college are turning 40 this week. This is the fifth week in a row that this has happened.  What was different this week is that I realized that, based on how US schools set the cut-off birthday month for entering Kindergarten, these reminders are only just beginning. I will continue to get them for the next 10 months.

I am still not sure how big of milestone turning 40 is. I probably will not know for a while. If I believe the movies and television, is it time for me to have an affair, buy a red sports car and question my reason for existence. However, if I look to the examples of my friends and colleagues for examples, it seems more like a cause for celebration and jokes. This is a case where I definitely prefer reality to fantasy.

What I am sure of is that social media in general – and Facebook in particular – have changed how we navigate this milestone. Thanks to Facebook, LinkedIN and other social networks, I know more today (~20 years later) about what friends from high school and college are doing than I knew five years after graduation. Does seeing what everyone else is doing (who has kids, who gained or lost weight, who is in high level positions, etc.) change how I feel about my life? Surprisingly no. I think this is because I am learning this information gradually, through Status updates and Wall postings of pictures, instead of all-at-once (as I would at a formal reunion). This gives me time to absorb each update for what they are, a moment in an individual’s life. It is healthier and more natural.

It will be curious to see if this feeling stays the same through next August, when these weekly reminders of my age should end (given US school enrollment policies). It will be even more curious to see what happens when I reach this milestone myself in 2011. Until then I will continue to avoid red sports cars and post weekly, “Happy Birthday!” notes on my old friends’ Walls.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Haughwout
Jim Haughwout (pronounced "how-it") is passionate about creating technology that improves how people live and work. He is the Chief Technology Architect at Savi Technology and a General Partner at Oulixeus Consulting. His work has been featured by Network World, ZDNet, Social Media Today, the IBM Press, CIO Magazine, Fast Company, GigaOm and more.


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