And so another year in my life has officially passed by.
As planned, I crossed the threshold point with little fanfare. Last year, the count was 6, excluding well-wishing from my family and people who recently came to know. This year, using the same criteria, it was 1, and it wasn’t even posted on a public “Facebook wall”.
My goal has well and truly been accomplished. I never intended it to be an experiment when I started taking down 110726 from my profile pages, but by the time I hit university, I started thinking, how many people could remember it without having to refer to Facebook to find out? Also, how low could I have the number go?
I decided to carry out a long experiment in interactive social psychology (call that a term I conjured up in a whirlwind), risking, of course, some degree of alienation, scratching of heads and weird looks. In would insist that I did not do anything overtly special on this day, and that none of my friends do anything special or buy me anything. At most, I allowed myself a special food treat, like a mocha rather than coffee. I was my own treatment group. The only downside was I had no control group – unless you considered all of my normal friends who celebrated their birthdays normally.
A few years back, I wrote a mock-paper on the subject, and found that friends are incredibly forgetful, even with reminder tools.
Combine that with my insistence to keep today as normal and low-key as possible, means that for once, I had a less-than-normal day on the 24th anniversary of the day I was born.
Today looked like this: Go to work, encounter a really bad interpersonal problem at work, try to resolve problem at work, come home with a heavy heart, ask in prayer for peace and wisdom to deal with it, then find a future potential problem.
Breakfast: As usual.
Lunch: A sandwich I hadn’t eaten at the cafe in over 2 months now.
Dinner: A soup invention with noodles; leftover cheesecake from another friend’s birthday dinner for dessert.
What a day eh?
I have decided to stop this experiment. In some respects, risking the scratching heads and weird looks of misunderstanding was worth it. I confirmed my own hypotheses, and reached an unbelievably low number of ‘HBDs’ for the average city slicker. Concealing my own birth date also served to protect myself from the undesirable advances of others who might want to ‘persuade’ me to down ethanol on this day.
But I have found myself also becoming sensitive to the joy and happiness others have when they share their special days with other friends, and I don’t want to risk this sensitivity turning into cynicism and bitterness. That would be simply a big, big mistake.
I still won’t reveal on my public profile pages the day I was born or my age. But I will no longer insist that friends do nothing for me. From this point onwards, I will gladly accept if they decide to do anything edifying (ethanol pushers read: encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement, so I am saying NO to EtOH still), like having a chat about life over coffee, or learning from seniors how to deal with challenges ahead in school, or sharing about deeply meaningful and purposeful living.
(Side note: I find that the higher I probe in grad school, the fewer deeply purposeful people I can find… and instead, I see a lot more of self-servitude, survival-of-the-fittest scarcity mentalities, and cynicism, be it overt, subtle or subconscious in nature.)
Anyways, it is late now, and is already the next day. Time to move on, and time to sleep.