The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Susannigans: Insta-Birthday

3 min read


Last Wednesday I turned nineteen years old. I rang in my final year of teenager-hood by spending seven hours in the Bullet office, bringing you last week’s Viewpoints section. I then came home to an inbox of 50 plus email notifications from My wall had been infected with birthday love.

Wall posts came from California to Scotland to Singapore. I received messages from estranged ex-boyfriends, former kindergarten classmates, and people I didn’t know knew I existed.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the attention. In fact, I adore it.
But I can’t help but come to the conclusion that this rash onslaught of cyber birthday wishes is an explicit display of the dotcom generation’s abandonment of intimacy. I got an overwhelming sense that the majority of these people didn’t really care that it was my birthday; they were simply bored and prompted by a Facebook reminder.

I’ll admit it. I am an active participant in this deterioration. A number of my obligatory birthday greetings have been typed rather than verbalized, and I am not proud of this fact. Human contact seems to have become completely digitized.

Here’s an even more disgusting admission: Post-birthday, I found myself sub-consciously evaluating my friends based on their choice of greeting-forum (aka how much time and thought was put into the birthday-wish). My closest friends approached me in person or by phone, decent friends by text message or email, acquaintances through Facebook, and fair-weathers—not at all.

I know. Ew.

I should be so flattered to receive any recognition on my birthday, in any form.

That being said, I still find this conversion to pixilated communication, and my subsequent friend-ranking, depressing. Technology has tainted every facet of modern-living. Young people, especially, are obsessed with the instant. Our macaroni is now zapped in the microwave, our music is an intangible mp3, and relationships are made through compatible online profiles. The art of snail mail is dead. We live through websites.

There is an inherent beauty in a lot of the processes that technology has decided to do for us. I yearn to once again make mix tapes on cassettes, drive a stick shift, and play a game of solitaire with a real deck of cards as I wait for water to boil on the stove.

After a final evaluation of my nineteenth birthday, I realize that all my griping is completely in vain. Neither words nor text messages can express how delicious the authentic homemade birthday cake my friends baked for me tasted. Not to mention the mega-surprise party that was held for me the following Friday. That’s what I call intimacy, completely software-free.

The above realization is proof that in terms of the events of my birthday, I really have nothing to complain about at all. This is usually the case in my little middle class life. Still, the ungratefulness seems to creep its ugly head in anyway.

Maybe that’s just being nineteen years old.