Electronic Birthdays

This is how birthdays are for me: Today my sister and a friend sent me a happy birthday text and my oldest daughter said, “Happy birthday, Mom.” (My youngest is with her father, so I am not sure if I’ll get to talk to her today or not.) The chiropractor I saw in Portland sent me a personal email yesterday. It was nice because I could tell he actually wrote it. Then this morning, in addition to sister, friend, and child, I got two form emails from two dermatologists I saw 3 or 4 years ago, and a form text from the chiropractor I see here in town. It says “msg&data rates may apply.” It’s so pathetic it is almost funny. Might they? Might I have to pay Verizon because of a form text telling me some computer was glad I was born?

Thankfully I have unlimited texting so I won’t have to pay more than I already do for the service, but it’s a pretty sad state of affairs that this is what the world has come to. I don’t have facebook anymore. Too many reasons not to. However, when I did, I turned off the birthday feature because it bothered me that I would get 20 happy birthday messages on facebook and not one phone call or face to face interaction from humans I know. I know there are those who would say I should be grateful for the 20 happy birthday messages, but I felt like they were not much really. Facebook tells users it is someone’s birthday so they don’t have to expend more effort that it takes to type a little post. Honestly a text has more meaning to me than a facebook post.

In years past I have been upset that no one remembered or cared about my birthday. Then last year a lot of people remembered and either called or texted. It was nice, but also a little unnerving to me. I’m not sure why. I didn’t really like the attention. It’s something of a paradox; I want people to remember that I am alive and that I was born, but I don’t want them to draw attention to it. I know, I’m weird.

This year, no one seems to remember (not even Mum, but she doesn’t remember her own birthday let alone mine, so it’s not like I’m unusual), and I honestly don’t mind. I just find it interesting that there are all these companies that have turned my birthday into a marketing ploy. Dr. Herold in Portland knows I’m not going to be driving to Portland for a chiro session, so his email does not feel like a marketing ploy at all. He is really nice and we have had many non-chiropractor conversations, so I know his happy birthday is more than just a way to get himself business. While typing this, a text came in from a woman I have known since I was a baby. She remembered too. She is so sweet.

So much of today’s world seems to be a stand in for real life. Get a text. Get an email. Get a notice on facebook. Of all the birthday interactions I have had thus far today, only one has been with a human interacting with me as a human. And now this is how things are. No wonder I feel so isolated all of the time. Even when it’s easier, a lot of people I know will text rather than call.

Well, wonders never cease. My mom interrupted this little — whatever it is — by calling to wish me a happy birthday. Wonders never cease because she has stroke dementia. Sometimes she is remarkably lucid. Others, not so much. Lately the not so much outweighs the lucid by about 4 to 1. I have tried calling her multiple times over the last couple of weeks.  She doesn’t notice her phone ringing. She doesn’t notice messages. I thought for sure she had no idea it was my birthday. She forgot last year. In any case, she did it. I love her. I hope she’s around next year for the next one.

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