Real vs. virtual birthdays

I have two birthdays: my real-life birthday, and my virtual birthday.

My real-life birthday is easy to explain: that was the day my biological mother gave birth to me.

My virtual birthday is a bit problematic. It started when some internet sites required their subscribers/users to declare their birth dates when registering to use the services.

Personally, I don’t feel comfortable disclosing my personal details on the internet (unless it is legally required, and even then I would argue first). I don’t mind sharing my personal information with my friends and relatives, or with people with even the slightest acquaitance; but when it’s recorded online, there’s a chance that the information might be leaked to people with whom I don’t have (or don’t wish to have) any business.

I suppose the purpose of asking users’ birth dates is to verify the users’ identity in the case of lost password. Suppose someone registered to and then forgot his/her password. He or she can then ask the website administrator to issue a new password, and the administrator can ask him/her some questions to verify that he/she is the genuine person. One of the question might the user’s birth date, with the assumption that only the genuine person would know one’s birth date. This is the only legitimate technical reason that I can imagine as being behind the policy. Still, I don’t think it’s right. Personal information should remain personal, despite the website administrators’ promises not to disclose the information, or the option to display or hide such information.

Therefore I came up with a solution: the virtual birthday. It’s an arbitrary (but consistent) date that I entered as my birth date when registering to a web service. To keep the lie minimum, I chose the same month and year as my real-life birthday (thereby avoiding giving the false perception of my age). So the “birthday” you see on my internet profile might actually be my virtual birthday.

Did I deceive anybody personally? I apologize if I did, and assure you I did not have any malicious intent in doing so. Particularly to those who, in good faith, sincerely wished me a happy birthday and many happy returns on my virtual birthday. I appreciate the attentions and intentions they offered me, as if it was my real birthday. I trust that they would have offered the same well wishes on my real birthday, had they known my real birth date. So please don’t feel deceived if you wished me happy birthday on my virtual birthday; I appreciate it all the same.

Did I violate some terms and conditions? I admit I did, but please don’t tell the website administrators, OK? 🙂


One response

  1. I do the same thing sometime, but I don’t just pick a random date to be my virtual birthday. No sir. I pick Unix epoch as my virtual birthday. So there, now you know 🙂

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