May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Birthdays matter. It is not how many times one has gone around the sun or how many gifts one received. Birthdays are about the guests, not the person with their name on the cake.

I realized this when I joined the world of social media back in the 2000s.

(How old are you?)

In dog years I’ve been pushing up daisies for some time.

(Bro, you are 54.)

I’m a triathlete. I compete in a sport where the only way I am ever going to win my age group is to outlive the other competitors … in a sport that prolongs your life.

(Unless you upset your wife.)

There is that. Now where was I?

(Your birthday.)

It occurred to me that the reason I got birthday greetings on social media was because I took the time to wish others the same on their birthday.

(Dude, it sounds like a brag.)

Hmmm, it kinda does. Here is the point; every morning I check my Facebook for who has a birthday and I make sure to wish them “Happy Bday!”

(Still sounds like a brag.)

It’s not, it’s a suggestion. If you are on social media, take the time to respond with more than a thumbs up. I never post my Wordle score, but I have friends who do, so I post mine as a response.

(To show them that you beat their score?)

Didn’t you once tell me, “No one cares about your Wordle score”?

(I’m in your head dude.)

My point is there are people who never post and now they are posting their scores.


So, I could take 20 seconds to let them know that I am paying attention. That I too had trouble with today’s puzzle.

(As opposed to?)

As opposed to click and swipe on.

(Wait, swipe left or right?)

What is the difference between the two?

(Swipe right means you find someone attractive. Swipe left means you don’t.)

We used to write letters. Then we started writing emails. Then we send emojis. Now we click like and move on. As educators, we thought that the internet would increase literacy, but we are going in reverse.


The Egyptians used to write in hieroglyphics, the original emoji. From there the Phoenicians gave the Greeks a 22 letter alphabet and the Greeks gave us Homer, Aesop, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle and Plutarch.

Once a year, I set a day aside to comment on every one of my Facebook friend’s pages. I just want to be sure that people do not slip through the cracks. Check your list of “friends” if you are on social media and see how many of them you have spoken to in the past six months.

Yes, social media has become the place where we tell the world about our new pet, post pictures of the foods we cook … and yes, share our Wordle scores.

(Workouts too.)


But … social media has also become the place where birth announcements and shiva information is being shared … and sometimes people slip through the cracks.

We have, in this information age, become too fast.

The Covid lockdown taught us to slow down because we had the time and now, I fear that we have returned to our old ways.

(But it is a birthday. What are you 8 years old that you need people to wish you a greeting on the day that marks that you are exactly where you were a year ago in relation to the position of the planets around the sun?)

Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard told me a story of a rabbi in the DP camps. The rabbi was trying to get 10 men for minyan and was short one.

“Isn’t there anyone else?”

“There is, Rabbi, but you will never get him.”

So, the rabbi went to see the 10th man and the rabbi got this as an answer why this 10th man was a hold out,

“When I was in Auschwitz there was a man who had smuggled in a siddur. I saw him charge other men their daily bread ration as payment to use his prayer book. I want no part of a religion where men do such a thing.”

The rabbi responded, “Fool! You only saw the one who was selling. You failed to see all those who gave up their food because they could not live without their connection to God.”

It is easy if you still have your parents to wish you a happy birthday. It is easy if you are married and have a family of your own to wish you happy birthday. We fail. We fail in this post Covid lockdown age to think of others. It’s not how many people wished you happy birthday … it’s how many people you reminded that you were thinking of them on their day.

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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