It was in 1968 that the Beatles released “Birthday” and Paul McCartney sang: “They say it’s your birthday/ We’re gonna have a good time.”
Sir Paul’s efforts notwithstanding, the heyday of birthdays wasn’t the late ’60s, it’s today.
Once upon a time, people forgot their friends’ birthdays.
These dates that commemorate our origin sometimes passed without great notice, without an influx of well-wishes – maybe a cupcake at work.
Now, thanks to the ubiquity of social networks and a handful of birthday-centric Web sites, there’s not much of an excuse anymore for an uncelebrated birthday.
Facebook, like MySpace and Friendster, includes birth dates as one of a handful of basic identity entries. Of course, you can skip it, lie about it or evade it with simply a vague “1972” or even “the ’50s.”
But most people accurately post their birthday. And when that day comes around, your friends and connections are notified of the event and flood your “wall” with birthday wishes.
To be sure, a number of messages such as “OMG! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE 30!” aren’t the same thing as candles and cake or a thoughtful letter.
But the attention might as well be a micro version of Casey Kasem announcing your birthday, just on a broadcast to a more select audience.
Speaking of the top 40, there’s a site that allows you to look up the song that was No. 1 on the Billboard charts on your birthday – or any other day for that matter.
The site is www.joshhosler.biz/NumberOneInhistory/selectMonth.htm. For this writer, it means pondering the impact that Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” has had on his life.
If you choose to avoid Facebook and other social networks, you can still use the Internet to help you keep track of birthdays.
The site www.BirthdayAlarm.com was founded in 2001 by Paul, Michael and Xochi Birch. (Michael Birch went on to create the social network Bebo, which AOL bought for $850 million last year.)
Birthday Alarm is simple.
After you sign up, the site offers to send an e-mail to your friends, asking them their birthday.
Once those birthdays are entered, you’re reminded of upcoming birthdays with an e-mail. E-cards are also offered, with that feature costing $14 a year.
Naturally, with birth comes death – and that’s where the site dead.atyourage.com comes in.
The site, currently in beta, gives you the rather morbid opportunity to see famous people you’ve already outlived.
After you’ve added your birthday, the site greets you with a message congratulating you for living as many days as you have.