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Help grant the world’s oldest Facebook user’s birthday wish

Edythe Kirchmaier, 105, set up her Facebook page as part of a birthday challenge to benefit Direct Relief.


Jennifer Abel

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 7, 2013   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 1:45 am CDT

There’s a stereotype that old people can’t adjust to new technology. And there’s people like Edythe Kirchmaier, who prove it clearly wrong.

Kirchmaier, at age 105, holds the honor of being the oldest confirmed user on Facebook. She’s also spent the last 40 years (pretty much her entire retirement) volunteering for a medical aid charity called Direct Relief, where friends helped set up her Facebook page as part of “Edythe’s 105th birthday challenge.” On the Direct Relief website, that challenge is described as “lighting a candle on the world’s largest (virtual) cake.”

But on Kirchmaier’s Facebook page, the birthday challenge calls for people to “help grant my birthday wish by liking my beloved charity, Direct Relief, on Facebook.”
As of press time, Kitchmaier’s own Facebook page had more than 21,000 likes, while Direct Relief’s was just shy of 78,000.

And as of this week, Kirchmaier is officially a mainstream media sensation. News outlets as far away as Pakistan noted the occasion when she became the oldest person to hold a driver’s license in California. The NY Daily News mentioned that Kirchmaier uses her iPad mini to “play Solitaire and look up facts on the internet,” and Good Morning America quoted an unnamed 85-year-old who hangs out her on a web forum and said “I enjoy just checking Facebook every day and seeing the pictures that have been added and reading some of the messages. … I still exchange emails with my high school friends.”

Playing computer solitaire and using Facebook to chat with high school friends aren’t usually considered newsworthy actions in 2013, unless they run counter to the stereotype about old people and new technology. Happy birthday Edythe Kirchmaier.

Photo via Edythe Kirchmaier/Facebook

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*First Published: Feb 7, 2013, 5:38 pm CST