air born

Why happy birthday?

Ahh, that time of the year when you get awkward wishes from people you barely talk to. Not that I do not like being wished on my birthday. But why do I like being wished on this otherwise ordinary day? I even get upset when my loved ones forget to wish me. Why!?

I've been wondering this all day today. Here's why I think birthdays have such a strong influence.

First of all — pop culture. Obviously. Herd mentality and all that. We know this. Soap stuff.

But before pop culture and even now, I think the main reason has always been self-importance. I mean, most of us do not have “great” enough deeds that a large community of human beings will celebrate us. But we all have a sense of self-worth. For example, I'm the main character of my story. Without this sense of self-worth we would live sad lives. When people wish us on our birthday, it means that they cared enough to remember an event central to me and send a relevant message. And my head tells me that “this must mean they value me in their lives”. Therefore, the more people that wish us, the better we feel.

Unfortunately, modern social media has overblown this feeling. The apps notify everyone in your network that it is your birthday, and you get that many wishes. And you feel that much more important. That much more cared and central to people's lives. If you say, “Of course, I do not. That is silly!”, then you are someone who does not check their inbox. But if you do, then you do. And its okay. The smart minds who created social networks made them so as to hijack our instincts for whatever reasons. Usually money.

But why am I so worked up over all this? My original issue here was that I do not know who actually remembers my birthday. The ones who actually care and keep me in their thoughts. I mean, you can tell the obvious ones. Your immediate family, for example. But apart from that its much more noisier.

And now I am sad that I even care about this stuff to write about it. How vain it is to want people to remember the day you were born! Apart from my parents, it's not really all that eventful for anyone else. The rest of you should just mind your own business. Not distribute a false sense of importance.

But perhaps I am just a loner who will never truly understand the whole deal with birthdays. Perhaps it does mean a lot to other people. Perhaps other people do have many friends and family who care and think about them. Anyhow, I will end this note with a small bit from Seinfeld that I always seem to remember on my birthday

Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably. Happy birthday? No such thing.

— Jerry Seinfeld (trying to be “not funny”)

HBD to myself! Another year closer to death :)


Update: Despite what Seinfeld says, I think I have grown up quite a bit this year.