Pay It Forward

Mmmm cakey.
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. It’s not much effort.

To me however, there’s still a choice to communicate. We get bombarded by information everyday, we’re busy, we’re tired, and we have our own lives going on. 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 people of a birthday, but this doesn’t rob from 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 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 (when I announced to people I was doing this on Facebook). I took the cumulative time spent from my friends ~14 minutes to research a charity and donate $1110 dollars to. I decided on the American Cancer Society.

I’d like to end things with this truth: Every year I traditionally experience a bad string of luck close to my birthday and dread it’s coming. This year nothing bad happened, and 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.