The 21st Century Birthday

This past Thursday I turned 20 years old, and to be honest, birthdays have never really been a big deal to me. I’m not the kind of girl who runs around in a tiara with a huge sign plastered to my shirt that says “HEY WORLD, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY.” Then again, I’m not really sure anyone does that…

(For my 19th birthday, my mom sent me these little pieces as a joke. I DID NOT wear them out.)

Nonetheless, I awoke on September 10th feeling like it was just another day. Another typical Thursday in the life of Clancy Burke. But then I reached across my desk and checked my phone and immediately felt the sharp realization that today was not any other day. Today was my day and I had about a dozen messages full of love and kind wishes to prove that. In my head that sounds absolutely ridiculous – I didn’t win the Nobel prize, nor did I find the cure for cancer – but to society, this is the norm.

After responding to an overwhelming and endless stream of texts, I grabbed my books and began the walk to class. Normally I’ll pass a few people and give them a nod or a casual hello. But thanks to 21st century technology, my walk to class was different. People I barely even knew – and might not have even said hi to otherwise – were wishing me a happy birthday, paired with warm smiles and enthusiastic waves. Ten years ago no one would have even known it was my birthday, but now it’s 2015 and websites like Facebook and Instagram make sure everyone knows.

So that’s how my day went. I talked to more acquaintances than I had in the past week, and connected with so many old friends who decided to reach out through text. If there’s one thing I learned it’s that birthdays are HUGE in society today, and while it made me feel great and happy and loved, it kind of bothered me. Why does everyone wait for one day a year to reach out to someone and be friendly and reconnect? It’s not like I’m any less of a person than I was yesterday, nor am I any different than I’ll be tomorrow.

To the “Happy birthday! I miss you so much!!!” texts, I wanted to say, “If you missed me so much, why didn’t you text me a month ago?”

And to the “Happy birthday! Love you!!” texts, I wanted to say, “If you really loved me, I’m pretty sure we would have communicated some time in the past few months.

It seems as though today, we are becoming more and more hermit-like. With each decade that passes, there are more websites, apps, and online jobs, and less face-to-face interaction. Today, everyone seems to come out of their little hermit shells only a few times a year, the birthday of an acquaintance being one of them.

Imagine we could wish our friends and family to have a great day several times a week. Imagine we could happily wave to acquaintances every single day and ask them how they’re doing. Imagine that was the world we lived in. Imagine….

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