Happy Birthday, Stranger

Susan Orleans questions birthday wishes in the age of Facebook:

My ace in the hole as a human being used to be my capacity for remembering birthdays. I worked at it. Whenever I made a new friend, I made a point of finding out his or her birthday early on, and I would record it in my Filofax calendar. … Is it Puritanical to think something has to require a lot of effort to be sincere? Because it’s easier these days to stay in touch, does it mean that staying in touch means less than it used to, when it took much more time and effort? Am I just ruing the fact that something that used to be distinctive about me is now a click away from being something everybody can do?