Birthday pangs

Birthday pangs

With the internet revolution, it is ensured that your birthday is made a public affair.

My birthday came round the other day. As it does unfailingly every year. Same month, same date, only the day differing. Some years ago, when someone called you up to wish you on your birthday, or sent you a bouquet of flowers, along with a gooey chocolate cake and a bottle of vino blanco (if you were lucky), you felt a glow of warmth.

Happy that you meant something to someone, and feeling good about being slightly ahead of the game, what with the free wine and fixings. A trunk call from a friend or a relative would indicate a special effort having been made.

Times have changed. Everyone and his pet dog remembers, or is reminded of, your birthday. The internet revolution has seen to that. Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Twoo and others of their ilk have marked you down for their own. You are digitally prodded day in and day out about personal milestones of dozens of people whom you may or may not even remotely know. Some of them you don’t even particularly want to know.

But there you go. There’s no escaping the torrent of gushing, intrusive messages, leaping out at you from your laptop, mobile and any other electronic device you may have the misfortune to own. Do you reply to all of them, for fear of wounding their sensibilities  Or do you spend the best part of your day, making a random selection of those you know, those you only think you know, and those you don’t care a toss about? What a way to spend your birthday!

Let me hasten to add that this mild rant against online greetings makes exceptions of  those one genuinely knows and cares about. Most of them in that category usually call direct. But when your name and date of birth adorns the databases of your bank, your credit card company, hotels you have visited, mutual funds you have invested in, single malt brands you have bought and the vegetable vendor and laundry man down the street – well then, you’re asking for trouble!

The best way to deal with this avalanche of good wishes is to ignore them altogether. A kind of benign neglect. But have a care. You don’t want Murugan, your neighbourhood laundry man burning a vindictive hole through your Fab India silk kurta, presented by your loving wife on your birthday!