February 4 is Friends Day, a Totally Made-Up Non-Holiday to Celebrate Facebook's Anniversary
By now, you've probably been made aware of Friends Day, and the temporary features (i.e., gimmicks) that come along with it.
If you haven't, it's going to look like this:
Starting today, and for a limited time only, some users will see a message from Facebook at the top of their News Feed announcing a personalized video and "awards" for certain FB friends to celebrate the made-up non-holiday. You can even give out awards yourself, for things like "Bestie," Great Listener," "Photo Op Friend."
We're not complaining. There's no harm in it, it's kinda funny for at least 2 seconds.
Here's the thing. Friends Day is not an official holiday—there is a Friendship Day celebrated in some parts of the world, but that's not till July 20, or the the first Sunday in August; or, in the case of our very quiet Finnish friends, in lieu of Valentine's Day.
What Facebook is really celebrating is the anniversary of its launch 14 years ago, on February 4, 2004.
In that time, Facebook has become one of the most powerful social platforms in the history of man, shaping our lives both online and off. Today, there are about 2 billion accounts on Facebook, and over 750 million new Facebook friendships formed every day. (We assume there are fewer friendships formed in the real world.)
This isn't the first time big corporations have had a hand in pushing a holiday—Coca-cola has helped create our universal notion of Santa Claus, while Hallmark has lent its name to the term "Hallmark holidays", used to describe made-up corporate holidays like Grandparents' Day and, yes, this one.
In the meantime, we also learned that Filipinos, besides spending the most time spent on social media, were also responsible for creating the most groups on Facebook. If there's a country that should declare this to be a real holiday, it's probably the Philippines.