by Sarah Gayda
I’m writing from an altitude of 35,000 feet en route to Detroit from Vancouver. I’ve never been to Detroit before. My sister, who immigrated to a suburb about an hour outside Motor City, is turning 40, and I’m attempting a birthday surprise.
Growing up, I have fond memories of surprise parties. I remember hiding behind sofas and trying to disappear into curtains while the room resounded with giggles and shushes. The lead up to the big day was always nerve-racking. Was someone going to let something slip? Most of the time, I just avoided our surprise target in fear I would be the one to blow it.
When my brother suggested we descend upon our sister for her birthday, I was all for it. Little did I appreciate how difficult a true surprise has become in this day and age!
Letting things slip has never been easier. There’s the real possibility that a friend will wish me a great trip on my Facebook page. Or that someone will comment on the “Happy birthday, sis – wish I could be with you to celebrate” I posted on Instagram to fake her out. Or perhaps she will intercept one of the many text messages floating back and forth between her husband and me, as we coordinate the details of what restaurant we are to surprise her at.
Social media is now an established mode of constant two-way communication. For our clients, it offers indispensable channels for brand building and messaging. I’m pressed to even remember what a communications plan used to look like without it. But, wow, does it make pulling off a successful surprise party hard!
I wonder whether I’ll be greeted with a smiling, “I kinda knew you were coming.” Or perhaps I’ll witness the emotion that comes with true shock and awe. Stay tuned.
I arrived at the Toronto airport only to discover that my flight to Detroit was cancelled. Frantic attempts to book another flight failed, so I rented a car and drove four hours. I missed joining my brother at the restaurant, but showed up before midnight to surprise her at home. And yes, she hadn’t a clue. Now that deserves a post on social media.