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Has Facebook killed the high school reunion?

November 29, 2010

Here’s the only sentence that has ever made me feel old: I went to my 20-year-reunion this past weekend.

It also made my mom feel old. But I digress.

I have a feeling that the adoption of Facebook killed the need for most of us to attend our high school reunions.

My reunion was a very nice affair, good food, open bar, pleasant conversation, dancing, women looking nice in cocktail dresses, men holding it together as best they can in slacks and sweaters/sports coats, slightly uncomfortable spouses. But the event itself seemed to lack a little energy and little mystery. And I think I know why.

There are two main reasons to attend a reunion: to reconnect and the morbid curiosity to see what happened to our classmates in the last 20 years. Who is fat, bald, dead, spinstered, train-wrecked, successful, gorgeous (naturally), gorgeous (enhanced), still clinging to their past heroics, etc?

Lets face it, Facebook has answered nearly every question. So long as someone has a Facebook profile, chances are you’ve been able to get even the slightest glimpse into their lives, if not more information than you’d ever need.

I have three best friends, all from high school, one is a heavy Facebook user, one moderate, and one refuses to join (he also refuses to get a text message plan for his phone, which is really frustrating). I would classify myself as a heavy Facebook user.

Of the four of us, the other heavy Facebook user couldn’t make it to the reunion.

Without a doubt, the guy most energized to see people at the reunion was the non-Facebook user. He had prepared himself by flipping through our 1990 yearbook and then upon arrival, went out his way to reintroduce himself to most of our classmates. Whereas the moderate Facebook user just looked around and talked to me about what he already knew regarding most of our classmates, all information he had gleaned either from their Facebook updates or through Facebook correspondence between he and the classmate.

I was at a bit of a disadvantage, for two reasons. 1) I have a horrible memory, and I really suck putting together names and faces. I recognize the face, but just can’t assign a name. 2) I have friended almost none of my high school classmates, truthfully, I’ve probably ignored more requests than I accepted. Not because I have anything against the requester (okay, sometimes I did – I can’t help it, some grudges last more than 20 years), but simply because once I saw their photo and checked out their bio, I was about as up-to-date as I needed to be.

I have a hard enough time staying current with my three best friends, what am I going to do with a couple of dozen other people I haven’t even thought about in the last 20 years.

Now, there were a few exceptions.

I had two people I was looking forward to seeing at the reunion, one I will refer to as my white whale, my Moby Dick. She and I were friendly, though not all that close, in high school. However, our career tracks have been very similar. I replaced her in a couple of jobs and even lived in the same town for several years, but we never, not once, met up. I was curious to have a conversation with her, but alas, she didn’t make it. She and I are connected on Facebook, but I was looking to have a more relaxed conversation in person.

And the second person, well… that would be the typical person you either really don’t want to see or you’re dying to see. In my case, I haven’t even seen a photo of her in 10 years and not a conversation since college. Perhaps she’ll reemerge for the 40th reunion. Or she’ll just get a Facebook account and I won’t need to meet up with her at all.

Now of course, this is just one introverted xenophobe’s opinion of Facebook versus the high school reunion. I’m very curious if you feel the same as I. Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts.

In the end, it really was a very nice evening and I really did enjoy the time I spent there, particularly with my best friends and our significant others. We rarely get to see each other as a group and I had a blast with them. As I looked around, I saw several other cliques of people who were having a great times as well. Perhaps there is where Facebook loses to the reunion. While Facebook may be social media, it isn’t social at all.

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