Originally featured on Elephant Journal June 10, 2017
I am a heathen—but that’s not why I stopped praying or posting Facebook birthday messages.
We live in a time when there’s just so much to do, especially online. Most of us have a Facebook account—it’s almost criminal not to have one. It’s handy for staying connected to people who live far away, and let’s be honest, we use it to stalk each other.
We’ve passed that time, about seven years ago, when it was still awkward to pretend we didn’t know everything about someone’s engagement, divorce, weekend plans, or last night’s dinner when we bumped into them in person. That silly dance where we both feigned surprise when we heard the newsworthy details of each other’s lives.
“You’re in a relationship? That’s great!” What about the juicy details of your last messy breakup? I thought you were such a cute couple!
“I had no idea you were just in Hawaii!” It’s your third trip this year. How do you get all the vacation time?
I, for one, am happy to be past this juvenile denial. I often start sentences when I see friends in real life with, “Oh, I saw your post. Your new puppy is adorable!”
A few months ago, I made a new rule for myself: I wouldn’t post birthday greetings to friends on Facebook, unless I planned to call or spend the day with them. If they fell into that category, I usually called, texted, or visited them. Sometimes I still posted a birthday message—but not always.
Why would I make such an arbitrary distinction?
Guilt. The same guilt that convinced me to stop praying.
My parents chose to forgo any kind of Christian baptism for myself and my brothers. We didn’t attend church or adhere to any religious precepts, except the universal: Be kind and treat others with…
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