Text by: Diwakar Pyakurel
"Happy Birthday to you, wishing more fun, success and progress in the coming year!" I wrote on her Facebook wall, just after I signed in my account before leaving for my college. Unexpectedly I met her that afternoon when I was on the way to Baneshwor. We shared 'Hello', 'How are you?', 'I'm fine' and 'Ba-Bye' to each other and continued to own journeys. When I signed in my Facebook that night, I got the notification that she had commented on my post. I found that she had written 'Thank you!' for my post. I gave a 'like' to that!
This real incident on a particular day of last week urged me to think some aspects of growing "fb"-culture. Facebook is popularly known as social network/media. But, do we ever examine its un/sociability?
Facebook has been overwhelmingly popular among internet-literates in Nepal and in other parts of the world. Being all-time active and updated on Facebook has become a matter of prestige for many youths among their friend circles. It has been indeed helpful to connect ourselves with long-lost friends and far-flied relatives. Facebook is really a useful book on which you can find many useful and interesting faces.
But, let's discuss about my introductory incident. What difference would be there if I didn't have Facebook account; or if Facebook didn't have birthday reminding application? If I had remembered her birthday, I would call/send SMS to her wishing something good, and she would reply me 'Thanks!' But, if I hadn't remembered the date, the day would go so and so as other days. Simple!
But, I had known the date and really met her face-to-face, I would surely said Happy Birthday in front of her face as well.
There might be hundreds of friends on your Facebook. Probably about a quarter may be unknown to you (so is the case for me!). Another fourth might be covered by some sort of known-by-all celebrities from many sectors of your interest and they don't really interact with you. The remaining half might be your people (including close and distant friends, family members, relatives, teachers and even some friends and families of your friends). And, interestingly you will be reminded of everyone's birthday. During the last ten days, there was no any day without any birthday notification, on my "fb" profile. To my surprise, April 1 was seven persons' birthday. (I guess some of them have purposively cited the date as to make us April Fool!).
And, I am habituated to wish them all happy birthday, no matter whether or how much I know to them. Thus, I feel same if it was my school time best friend or any celebrity writer, who is on my "fb" friend list. After all, I post the same message to everyone. Thus, Facebook birthday reminder has somehow been something like a wallpaper of my room that I observe everyday "taken for granted" and I use that everyday without knowing that I am using it.
To much surprise, some of the friends comment, "Thanks, but this is my LEGAL birthday, and my ACTUAL birthday is on x day of the y month." Or, some claim that the date was their actual birthday; however they will celebrate the legal one. There are many people who remind us that the "fb" birthday is according to solar calendar, but they celebrate according to lunar calendar (TITHI system). We can't calculate the number of persons who haven't mentioned their actual date of birth. Let's not spend much time to talk about those people who just mention any day of the year as their birthday just because there is the space to keep it.
In this way, virtual birthday wishes are taken for granted by many of its senders and receivers. They know that is there. They know it is to remind one about his/her nears' and dears' birthdays. And, they express wishes with decorative metaphors. But, the irony teases you when you happen to forget the matter that today was her birthday even after you meet her by face!
Birthdays were the occasion that would provide you the opportunity to celebrate the past success and enjoy the future dreams, with your family and friends. There were times when you would be so happy to hear 'Happy Birthday' from someone. This would be a matter of curiosity for your closed ones to plan together a celebration and offer you a surprise gift. It would be a memorable time for you when you would pay all bills of your friends at college canteen and the friends would immediately sing "Happy Birthday to you" for you. But thanks to Facebook that makes you alone, but with mere virtual birthday wishes without meanings, and words without expressions.
Let me claim again that Facebook has offered us fantastic service to connect ourselves with our world. It is nicer that it reminds us of some important dates for some people, who are important for us. The application is really helpful to celebrate those significant times with good spirits of prayers and wishes. But, do we actually take is so? Have we been able enough to enjoy all the benefits of such applications? To be more precise, has the birthday reminder really reminded you for the real birthday wishes and celebrations? Or, are they only wallpaper where you look everyday but don't care of its colors and composition?