The creepiest birthday wish ever

Posted on 03/08/13 9 Comments

Google's Happy BirthdayI turned forty today.

Too bad I live in a culture that celebrates youth rather than age.


When I was a young boy I realized I had received a diagnosis for a terminal illness. It turned out that I suffer from human mortality syndrome (HMS). Although I feel fine at the moment my doctor reassures me that I will succumb to the dreaded disease eventually.

Thanks Doc.

Then he reminds me that “Everybody else has it too. Everybody gets old and everybody dies.”

Misery loves company, right?


I opened my computer and went to Google, my doorway to the World Wide Web.

Interesting. The word “Google” had been converted into birthday cake.

What a delightful coincidence. Somebody else is facing the existential grip of HMS today. Who is it?

I glide my cursor over the Google birthday cake and my blood runs cold when a little text box pops up joyously declaring “Happy Birthday Randal!”

Sorry? Google is recognizing my birthday?

I’d be flattered if I thought there was a team of Google geeks at HQ in Mountain View, California who decided at a closed door meeting in January that Google should publicly honor my birthday for the world to see.

But alas, it is quite clear that my little Google birthday cake is just for my melancholy countenance, and as such it serves merely as a reminder that vast databases I know nothing about wield a horrifying amount of information about me including, among other things the day of my birthday.

The text box might as well have said:

“Hey Randal, Google knows a lot about you and is making lots of revenue by feeding that information to God-knows-who. We’re watching you buddy. And here’s a virtual Google cake just to remind you that you have no privacy anymore….

“Oh yeah, and you’ll still die from HMS.”

  • Chris Hallquist

    Um, my guess here is that there wasn’t anything sneaky Google was doing here. Rather, you were signed in to your Google account, and when you set up your Google account you had entered your birthday.

    • Randal Rauser

      I understand that. However, the seemingly innocuous Google cake is also a reminder that companies are gathering information on people all the time. Google monitors how we use the internet and adjust itself accordingly. And Kindle feeds information back to Amazon charting how people read Kindle books, where they pause, which words they seek definitions for, and so on. And they are feeding that information to guide how Amazon’s own publishing imprint will publish books in the future. Big Brother is watching…

      • Atheist Watcher

        You mean the AntiChrist is watching.
        All is in place.

  • Kerk

    Unhappy Birthday, Randal! I share your melancholy wholeheartedly. Haven’t celebrated my own for about 7 years.

    But hey, on the bright side, there’s a good chance that something amazing is waiting for us out there, not the cold nothingness. Here’s to faith!

    • Randal Rauser

      I’ll drink to that!

      Then I’ll go reread my book on heaven…

  • James F. McGrath

    Happy birthday!

    (Hope this isn’t at all creepy)

    • Randal Rauser


  • Bilbo

    Ah to be a mere child of forty again. Happy Birthday, kid.

  • Erroll Treslan

    Happy birthday from the Yucatan!