April 17th, 2013

It's JHeaton!

You say it [was] your birthday

One of the nice things about Facebook is that it tells you when your friends have birthdays. I think it's safe to say that absent that feature, I would not have had more than 100 people wishing me a happy birthday yesterday. I read an article last year saying that Facebook had ruined birthdays. I was going to link to it, but I just reread it and it's stupid. The basic argument is saying happy birthday to someone only after being reminded by Facebook that it's that person's birthday is empty and meaningless, and that if we really care about birthdays and wanted our birthday greetings to out friends to be truly meaningful we'd memorize birthdays with our brains and only say happy birthday when we remembered to do so. But that's stupid, because even if prompted to so, and even if it only takes a second or two to type a perfunctory message on my wall, that's still a second or two of someone thinking about and doing something nice for me. Which is awesome, and it's why I took the time to Like and to post a comment of thanks on every one of the 100+ birthday posts or comments I got via Facebook yesterday (or today, or on April 15), not to mention the couple that came across the transom here on LiveJournal.

Moreover, I can prove that Facebook doesn't ruin birthdays because without Facebook I probably would not have received these:

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So suck it, Mr. "Facebook Ruined Your Birthday."

That aside, my birthday was pretty uneventful. Literally uneventful in one case, because I planned to go to an event at the UW-Madison School of Music last night that turned out not to be happening. (It was listed on the main UW-Madison event calendar, but not the School of Music's, leading me to believe it was cancelled but that they forgot to mention that to whomever maintains the main calendar.) But on the plus side, I happened to run into an election official friend of mine in the Humanities Building lobby, and I had a nice chat with him before heading home. But my birthday didn't need to be eventful, because I had one birthday event on Sunday and have another one planned for Thursday.

On Sunday, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nephew, and I went down to Illinois to visit Grandma, who'd requested that we come down to have a birthday lunch. Grandma's not as mobile as she used to be -- she turned 96 last month -- and she'd just as soon stay in than go out, so we just went downstairs and ate in the main dining room of her retirement community. And a fine meal it was, too! Say what you will about institutional dining, but the Sunday and holiday meals at Grandma's home are always top-notch. I had chicken Kiev, wild rice, green beans, an amazingly moist and delicious piece of banana bread, and an enormous slice of cookies-and-cream pie, the last of which resulted in me going home with an entire apple pie my sister had brought with her in lieu of a birthday cake. (Nothing against cake, but I prefer pie.) Well, I say "home," but in fact I went from Grandma's to Pres House, the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s campus ministry, where I was scheduled to help prepare and serve the community meal held after their Sunday afternoon worship services. Since I had no need of a whole pie, I ate one slice then set the rest of it out on the desert table, where it was set upon by the college students like locusts on a wheat field.

Thursday, I will be going out for a night on the ton with my friend Michaela. We met by way of the Television Without Pity Buffy the Vampire Slayer forum, so when I obtained a pair of tickets to see Buffy creator Joss Whedon's new film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, she was the first person I thought to invite to go with me. We're meeting for dinner before the movie, and she told me yesterday -- on Facebook, yet more proof that Facebook doesn't ruin birthdays -- that she intended to treat me to dinner because it was my birthday, and I told her I intended to accept because I don't turn down free meals. So I'm counting that as a birthday event too, even though it didn't start out as one.

Suddenly I feel very old

The other thing about birthdays and Facebook

As I was walking over to Union South to see A Cat in Paris, one of the two 2012 Best Animated Feature nominees I'd never heard of prior to their being nominated, it occurred to that when it comes to birthdays, Facebook offers at least one other thing of value beyond making you feel really well-liked for a day, at least when it comes to people like me: it provides a sense of occasion to something that really doesn't mean that much any more. I mean, the only real difference between being 44 and being 45, as far as I know, is that when I fill out Viewers Voice opinion polls, I'll have to check the next bubble down the list when they ask what age range I'm in. Other than that, what's another year to someone my age?