Nothing illustrates the "fakery" of Facebook and its so-called friendships quite as much as the "Facebook Birthday," that one day each year when you are bombarded by "exclamation-point-polluted" Wall posts from people you barely know. That's why Slate's David Plotz decided to engage in a little social experiment this year, by celebrating his birthday (which is really in January) on July 11 ... then again on July 25, and yet again on July 28. By the end of his experiment, 16 of his 1,557 "friends" had been fooled into wishing him a happy birthday on all three dates.
Of course, an increasing number of people caught on: He received 119 birthday greetings the first time around, with four friends expressing skepticism. The second time, the greetings dropped to 105 with nine skeptics—but 45 of those 105 had just wished him a happy birthday two weeks prior. By the third and final "birthday," Plotz received just 71 greetings and heard from 16 skeptics; 30 of the well-wishers had already well-wished on one of his two previous "birthdays." Though the experiment confirmed his fear that "all too many birthday wishes are autonomic, sent without thought or personal feeling," he was heartened to discover that many of his true friends caught on, and wished him a happy birthday anyhow. "They sought to increase good feeling in the world—and toward me, even though they knew I didn't deserve it." Click for the entire amusing column.