This was the cake at a birthday party. My name is on it, and so are other people’s.
Roughly 22 years ago on a 24 hour day kind of like this, I and my triplet sisters emerged from my mother’s womb. That makes today my birthday.
My birthday this year round has been surprisingly good, and I say surprisingly because with a new group of people there’s always the chance that everyone will be awful and hate each other and celebrating their birthdays. But thank goodness I have made great friends who, though neglecting to gift me with a giant teddy bear as I had requested time and time again, provided appropriate levels of attention that I need to survive much like a plant needs the sun or some cheeses need to be refrigerated.
Though I think birthdays are great, they can also a little awkward. I love spoiling other people on their birthday, when it comes to receiving said attention in kind, I always feel a little bashful, a little “aw shucks, me? All I did was exhibit the five signs of a thriving baby for the last 22 years.”
For us slightly birthday-shy types, thanks to modern technology there is a new delight that I and my sister, Frank, were discussing recently: the avalanche of facebook notifications that one can enjoy in the privacy of ones’ cave. Call me vain, self-centered, superficial, and crazy but I love love love seeing my notification count tick upward as the birthday rolls on.
I may have been out all day today looking for an apartment in the searing heat, escaping from the sun in an Armenian church, attending a belly dancing class, eating McDonald’s ice cream, or smoking sheesha on the Nile, but all I was thinking about was the boatload of notifications I was going to have when I got back to my apartment and did what I really wanted to do: look at my facebook.
The day before my birthday, there’s a little bit of apprehension: who’s going to be the first one to post? Will it be a cheeky friend trying to have an ironic day-before post or one of my friends from my many world travels (obnoxiousness intended)? And then it happens, the first “happy birthday!” Just like spotting of the new moon, it’s a harbinger of brilliant things to come. Though it’s a complete mystery when they begin, one thing is for sure: once the notifications start, they don’t stop. They burst out of the starting gate with an initial rush of posts from your diehard fans who watched the clock to be sure to enter their good wishes right at 12:00 am. Afterwards there are usually lulls in the early morning and late afternoon, but the notifications never stop and eventually explode in the evening hours as most young people surf their webs and complete social media tasks.
One can also observe a shocking variety among the birthday posts. Many friends are content with saying a simple “happy birthday!” However, some would rather die than posting something so obvious: instead they post in different languages, attempt to be witty, sarcastic, thoughtful, thoughtless, wistful, nostalgic, etc., all in order to distinguish themselves from the other birthday posts on your wall and prove themselves to be better, funnier, or more thoughtful friends. Friends you have not heard from in years will pay their dues to a friendship whose embers died out long ago. Those you would have liked to post neglect to do so, causing mild disappointment made up for by five posts from random high school friends.
Regardless of the manner of posting, I love them all. In fact, I like to save all my notifications until I feel the birthday ones have about run their course and then I go through them and thank people one by one, responding as I see fit in order to ensure another happy birthday greeting the following year. Withdrawal from the facebook birthday high is one of the hardest parts of moving past your special day since you know you will not be this popular until next year, and then you’ll also be older so the expectation is slightly tinged with sadness as are all things of beauty.
1. Facebook this year has not been tallying up all of my wall posts properly so I’m not sure as to the exact amount of “happy birthdays” I have. I think it’s over 5.
2. I realize that in many ways this is pathetic. There are real humans present who wished me happy birthday and that should be enough. I also realize this blog post will completely alienate some readers.
3. I don’t get that many notifications. This was a plea for attention in the facebook realm.