Since a long time now, it gives me immense pleasure to wish a person on his or her birthday. There was a time when I used to take great pains in maintaining important contacts’ birthdays. In high school, I started maintaining my friends’ birthdays in a self-created, calendar-sorted ledger. I kept updating this ledger for many years. I still have this ledger and it has about 500 odd entries although I do not update it any more.
It used to be fun checking this ledger for the next few days and reminding myself to wish the birthday folks. Since I kept doing this fairly regularly for a long time, some of the birthdays got etched into my memory, and I no longer needed a ledger to remind me whose birthday fell on which day. I could automatically wake up on any given day, check the date on the calendar and remember the person who had the birthday on that day. It was as easy as getting up on 6th April and knowing that it was my mom's birthday.
Over the period of my life, when I moved out of high school to PU college to Engineering college to my first company and then to the second company, and then within that company started hopping from one project to the other, this list of folks whom I knew and whom I liked and whom I liked to maintain contact grew and grew. Yet I tried my best to keep abreast on the growing list of birthdays and wish people as best as I could.
In some cases, the only day I ever spoke to someone – like past friends such as high school pals, etc. - was only on their birthday, and this once-in-a-year remembrance, that too on their special day, made them extremely happy and surprised and truly gave them joy. And on other cases, especially the older relatives, people realized it was their birthday only when I called them up and wished! And in other cases, there were instances when the person knew it was his or her birthday but their near and dear ones – like their own children or those who stayed with them under the same roof - never wished them. So hearing wishes from a distant person gave them this inner warmth – and I loved giving this joy, loved making the person “wanted” on the special day.
Some people were so overwhelmed - some “are”, even now – that they used to ask me how I remembered, what technology I used to keep myself “informed”, etc. All I had then was a simple notebook where I had stored their birthdays. But since the notebook was becoming difficult to refer to every other day, I started to use the basic technology – such as using a Microsoft outlook reminder, mainly because I knew I would always open this one software almost every single day. I had the birthdays linked to my home outlook client which was configured to my personal email id.
Thanks to gmail, which gladly took an imported version of any outlook stored reminders onto its server, and correspondingly to me starting to own an android version of a smart phone, the reminders now pop up automatically on my cell phone.
Technology is great.
So, now to wish the person, the only way for me is to login to Facebook since I don’t have the email id or the phone number. It is so easy to accept friends’ invitation on Facebook thereby the person is just a click away, anyway. So I login to Facebook and go to that person’s profile. I see hundreds of birthday wishes. My wish, I know, no longer gives joy or that ‘personal touch’ it once used to. The birthday gal or guy will wait until the day is over and give a one-liner comment informing how special the day was with the countless wishes. I miss that joy I used to get when I used to wish and I used to be the only person to wish or one of the rare few to remember the special day. I miss the ‘personal touch’. I feel sad for my ‘birthday wishes’ to suddenly become so ‘tiny’ amongst hundreds of other well-worded wishes. I suddenly feel like how a retired person feels when he is sacked because a machine can do his job better.
Alas. Technology is great but it lacks the human touch.
There was a time earlier when I used to ask for contact's Birthday after I had become reasonably close to pop that question. Now, I don't bother. Not because I can obtain this information after the 'Friend request' is accepted in Facebook, but because - when I now get a reminder on the cell phone about someone’s birthday, I just hit the ‘Dismiss’ button and don't even bother wishing.
So, for those of you who were used to it - after a decade of my wishes - if you don’t see any more from me, don't think I lost the steam - now you know the reason why.