my birthday rant

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a. I bought a table — for my birthday? not really; I just desperately wanted a table; a flat surface to eat upon really does make a difference — and it arrived yesterday. Assembly is a breeze. Four legs to the top, screw ’em in, and presto: instant civilization. Except my table came w/o screws. wtf? The local hardware store didn’t have the specific screws — something about metric and width and length and stripping and threading — and now I have a table top (a very sturdy, fine-looking table top, especially considering the price) and four shapely legs. The worst part: I was so reluctant to accept the fact that a reputably responsible company like Overstock would send me a table without screws, so I spent an hour searching the box and its contents, like foam. Now, this box is not large or complex enough to sustain an hour search. So you feel rather stupid the entire time, looking for the screws, because you think it’s you, not them. YOU can’t find the screws. Constantly going through your mind: How dumb am I? And then, after an exhausting and exhaustive search, you realized that, in fact, they’re not there, you feel stupid all over again, for not trusting your instinct 55 minutes ago. Blast it.

b. This rant is going to touch on facebook, which, I know I know, is a devilishly easy target for rants. But in general, while I’m not a rah-rah fanatic, I do realize that facebook in present times is nearly as indispensable as email; it’s not ‘beneath me’, and I don’t begrudge its existence (even if I sorta buy into the notion that it’s aiding in the severe identity-erosion of our populace). I use it strictly as a messaging service, and rarely post photos or songs or play games or tend farms or whatever the deuce people are doing on fb.

So, some people in life, including people I hold very dear, communicate with me via The Book of Faces. Great, awesome, fine: I like you, I don’t mind the extra clicks. But then, once a year, on April 16th, my wall is graffitied with birthday messages. And this is sending me into a tizzy.

Because, like every other being with a soul, I enjoy others’ good wishes. Now, I don’t necessarily need unadulterated sincerity backing up those good wishes in order to enjoy them, but, nonetheless, the more mechanically they’re produced, then, can’t be helped, the more mechanically they’re received. So ‘friends’ (can’t believe this word now belongs in q. marks; oy) that have very little interest in my life, and virtually no role in my life’s last x number of years, shoot me a “Happy Birthday!” Is it an invitation to reconnect, which, almost without exception, I would welcome? Some, maybe. But not most. I don’t know how to regard these messages. Individually, of course, they’re sweet, well-wishing people. But I have to wonder: are they doing this every day, to everyone on their list? On a special-list, I know I don’t rank very high on many of my well-wishers. As a friend, I’m worth a wall-post, apparently; phone calls/emails/text messages/visits/fucking e-cards — guess I’m not there yet. Have we actually reached a point where we have a continuum of friend-value? Like, the ‘friends’ get a wall post; friends get something a little more personal; and super-real friends get something even more personal. We’ve probably always had a  tiered sense of friendship, actually. I guess just now we have so many modes of communication to slice those tiers with.

Yea, it’s nice, even if it’s in a limited and contrived way, to get ‘happy birthday!’s. But being besieged by a wall of emptiness — and I don’t even have that many! — can be kinda sad.

But in any case, happy birthday to me. And to anyone who posted on my wall who might be reading this, I probably really like you, and am touched. I’m just cranky.

UPDATE: I take this all back, because the awesome Hannah Hammari just wished me a happy birthday.

Written by menachemkaiser

16 April at 11:43

Posted in rants

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