Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I Really Don't Like Birthdays

When I was a little girl birthdays consisted of a few basic elements.  A few relatives sent you birthday cards in the mail (ya know, snail mail).  A few friends, cousins and other relatives would come to your house and help you celebrate. There would always be a birthday cake, with ice cream (sometimes two flavors), party games and presents.  Because you were a kid, most everyone watched you expectantly, hoping you had a good time, liked their presents and helping you blow out all the candles.  By the time you crashed into bed that night, you had a birthday high that would last a week.  Or maybe that was just me. :)

As you age birthdays change of course.  For me it was ridiculous slumber parties.  Some have skating parties or bowling parties.  There's the infamous boy/girl parties.  Nowadays, especially for the emerging adolescent, birthdays are often about competition with the neighbors or cool kids at school, looking for the newest 'thing.'  And unless it's a major milestone like 30, 40 or 50, you don't usually get a full planned out party as an adult.  Adult parties are friends going out to dinner or just eating food in your honor, maybe with a cake.   

I have always LOVED my birthday and loved feeling special on it.  Sure, I was disappointed when a special friend or something forgot or didn't come to my party, but the ones who did remember and wanted to come to MY party, they made everything great.  Today though, with the internet and the vicious Facebook you are not expected to remember anyone's birthday.  This article proves how conditioned we are.  This has been a burr in my saddle for a while and reading this prompted me to get a few things off my chest.  Forgive me while I rant a bit.


I currently have 564 'friends' on facebook.  I know there are not 564 people in my life that are so special to me that I should/want to remember their birthday in order to express some sweet or grateful sentiment about their life.  No offense to the 400+ that I don't talk to, but we're not that close.  So here's my problem: If I am going to honor someone's birthday, I want it to be special.  If someone is going to honor my birthday, I want it to be special.  Facebook happy birthdays to me are not special.  Maybe a mention in someone's status or a direct private message, but the flood of one sentence comments on my wall, not so much.  And furthermore, with all of these birthdays I'm now constantly exposed to, I feel like I should especially acknowledge everyone and since I can't do that, I sit still and do nothing.  Feeling lame just the same.

Some will say I'm too sensitive or I care too much about silly things.  Maybe.  But to me there some things in life that are too rich to let pass by on the surface without really experiencing them.  And some might think I'm writing this for selfish reasons and that might have some truth to it, but not really.  If I'm not important to you, if I'm not a part of your life, I don't want or need your birthday acknowledgements and I certainly don't want a present.  Not because I think you are bad, but because it just doesn't mean anything. Like the birthday card from your dentist or insurance agent.  Big whoop! :)

I know that we're all busy and almost too connected with too many people, but I'm starting to think that that fact is a red flag to many other problems.  Perhaps the solution is in paring down the number of people/activities/priorities that we are glued to.  In trying to do many things we often succeed poorly instead of choosing a few in which to succeed at.
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