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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Replying to Online Birthday Wishes

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m connected to many friends and acquaintances on social media. For my birthday, well over a hundred people posted their wishes publicly on my page.

While I would prefer more personal, private messages (which close friends indeed sent), I do appreciate the kindness, and hence make it a point to respond to every posted message with a brief, individual reply.

However, I noticed that this approach is fairly uncommon: Most people simply share a generic “Thanks, everyone, for all your wishes” post on their page shortly after the event. As a sender of wishes to others, I would find that disappointingly generic and rather impersonal.

What is the perfect way to thank a large group of people for their birthday wishes on social media?

GENTLE READER: One writes thank-you letters, in part, to recognize and reciprocate the effort exerted by a gift giver.

But although Miss Manners, like you, prefers good manners to efficiency, she recognizes that requiring an individual response to every low-exertion expression of goodwill in such a situation would crush the festive spirit of even the most committed birthday girl. Direct felicitations should be acknowledged, but the public nature of the greetings you describe allows for a group response.

This is a minimum standard. While there is no ban on your responding individually to each “Happy bday Cindi!!!!”, doing so 100 times in a public way may convey an impression of self-absorption rather than gratitude.