The other day the newspaper carried an article which showed three young guys from the city who had developed a Facebook application for wishing your friends on their birthdays. It wasn't an application that merely reminds you when a birthday is upcoming (I have no grouses against that) but this was an application which would do the actual wishing for you at midnight, while you slept or watched a movie or had sex or do whatever you do at midnight. It could personalise the wish as much as you wanted ( or as little as you wanted) and it would post a message on your friend's wall at midnight as though you had written it yourself , and your friend would be no wiser. You merely had to enter all the dates of your friends birthdays one time. The article said that this way, you would never have to keep track of any birthdays or take the actual effort to wish a friend or even forget to wish a friend and your friend would be happy and moved that you really took the trouble to wish him/her at midnight.
How much more superficial can one get?
To me, birthdays are only as important as the people who have them. If the person mattered to me a lot, I would surely make an effort to make that day extra special for that person. To me, it is all about making an effort, not merely wishing for the sake of wishing. I would surely value a phone call or a visit much more than a mere posting on the wall which seems to have become perfunctory. And I would value a hand written card more than an electronic one for sure. On one of my birthdays, a good friend took the trouble to have a cake and a teddy bear and flowers delivered to me. It was a complete surprise and I was delighted. On my last birthday (when I was visiting India from the UK, in December) I was over the moon, when one of my closest friends flew down from a different city, to be with me. Another of my closest friends had taken the trouble to order a delicious chocolate cake weeks in advance (it is very hard to get a booking for a cake from that particular place) and also the care and thought that went into the gift she had chosen for me, moved me and made me feel on top of the world.
Yesterday happened to be her birthday and I decided to surprise her. I turned up outside her door (I had to change two city buses to get to her place as I am stranded without a vehicle at the moment) with a large bouquet of flowers and a nice gift (which I know she will love). Then I called her number and wished her from right outside her door. She had no clue where I was calling from. Then I told her that I think I heard a knock and that there was someone outside her door and asked her to open her door. She wondered how I could hear a knock though the phone when she couldn't :-) I insisted that she open the door. When she saw me standing there grinning like an idiot from ear to ear, she was so stunned that she could not react for a few seconds. :) Then she screamed and we both burst out laughing and hugged each other. She said " Hey. I never expected this. You really made my day."
We then ordered a Chinese takeaway and spent the rest of the day talking and laughing. She later texted saying it was one of the best birthdays she has had.
To me, that is how a close friend ought to be wished on a birthday and a birthday ought to be celebrated.
Not for me, an automated application that wishes them for you.