Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Sometime last year I read an article, or saw a morning television segment (not that I would ever, under any circumstances admit to watching morning television) that explained the dangers of sharing too many personal details on Facebook. Apparently the information we hand over while social networking, as readily as tissues at a hay fever festival, can be used by those pursuing a career in the highly competitive world of identity theft. The key element among the data we thoughtfully provide to credit card scammers and Mossad agents alike is our birthday.
As I am technologically inept (the computer I currently speak to you from is virtually a glorified typewriter, and my mobile phone of choice looks like something Julia Roberts might have used in My Best Friend’s Wedding) I have an irrational, paranoid fear of cyber crime. It’s something to do with the fact that I don’t really understand how anything I use actually works – it’s like a dark alley, I don’t know that there’s a rapist lurking in the shadows… so a part of me simply assumes he’s there. So upon finding out the danger of having your date of birth on Facebook I promptly deleted that piece of information from my profile.
And that’s how I turned my birthday this year into an accidental secret.
It’s like I staged a subconscious conspiracy against myself. It’s as if part of me, that part that only jumps out to take some air in around early April, the one that is becoming steadily terrified of my increasing age, decided to sabotage the whole getting older production.
Most of my poor Gen Y friends simply forgot. Understandable. On the upside, it gave me a chance to avoid those awkward Facebook salutations from people I haven’t spoken to in 10 years. On the downside is led to my rather awkward attempt to invite people around for minor, quasi birthday drinks later in the week, without actually stating that it was to mark my birthday. I didn’t want to ambush anybody, but I couldn’t help it. When Peta arrived and offered a fist bump in celebration of Friday I guiltily replied, “Also… you know… I’m 26 now so… yay.”
I’ve always felt oddly uncomfortable about staging birthday parties, it can’t help but feel like I’m saying:
“Hey… come celebrate ME.”
Even my 21st celebration was a challenge my mother (thankfully) pushed me through. I woke up on the morning of that party and clarified that mum wasn’t going too large with the whole thing. She reassured me she was being rather low key in her decorations, and it was only when I walked into the yard that I discovered she had gotten several close up photos of my face blown up to billboard proportions and plastered on the walls on one side of the house. That’s how Mother Painefull does low key – the same way Lady Gaga does understated.
My family (most of my family) remembered. I missed calls from Mother and Father Painefull respectively. The first phone message was a gushing speech about mum’s personal pride in my survival, the fact that she wanted to be the first to talk to me, and how she wished I had the best day ever. It ran for 2 minutes. The second one came with a rapid fire delivery, and went:
“Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday. This is your father.”
I managed my usual obsessive catch up with my age group pace setters – those women with whom I share a birth year and not much else. Keira Knightley has been out of one serious relationship and into another one, and she’s still incredibly famous and successful. Thank god for Haylie Duff, the Other Duff Girl.
There’s something so decidedly clichéd about obsessing over getting old. After my 1985 celebrity round-up, I decided I needed to move on. There’s probably no point in being terrified by ageing if I’m already the kind of elderly spinster who gets scared enough by technology to erase my birth date from Facebook.