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Will Facebook Kill the High School Reunion?

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Beth Falkenstein: As I write this, I am on a train headed to a mini high-school reunion. (That is to say, the reunion is mini. My high school was actually quite roomy.) A few friends and I, who haven't seen each other in ... um, let's just say since we graduated, have reconnected on Facebook and didn't want to wait until our next ten-year reunion. I am really looking forward to it. All week long, I've been practicing how to hold my head so my neck doesn't wrinkle.
 
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Speaking as someone who would live on Memory Lane, in Nostagia City, District of Olden Days (if there were such an address), Facebook has been a dream come true. I will never forget the moment I opened my e-mail to find that my crush from fifth grade had sent me a message.

Thanks to Facebook, I am in touch again with one of the members of my old clique (we called ourselves "Clique," as in "What's Clique doing today?") and have learned that yes, we would still want to hang out together. If it weren't for the photos posted on the Oak Park High School Class of (Not Tellin') Page, I might have gone to my grave trying to remember what our planetarium looked like. (Yes, we had a planetarium. Damn you, socialized education!)

But would any of that have been half as emotional if, say, I had been playing "Mafia Wars" with my classmates ever since we saw each other at commencement? That's why, speaking as someone with two daughters who are coming of age in the era of cyber-social networking, Facebook could be viewed as a major buzzkill. In these days of instant access, my girls won't ever have to go ... let's just say, as many years as I did without seeing their friends from high school. They won't even have to go one year ... or one hour! How can you ever be nostalgic for someone if they never go away? 

Frankly, I have the same problem with movies and TV shows on VHS and DVD. It used to be you had to wait all year to watch "The Wizard of Oz" on CBS. That's how you knew it was Easter. Now, you can watch Dorothy drop a house on the 4th of July, Labor Day and Halloween, if you want. It's not so special anymore, is it? It's the same with your classmates. The reunion is dead if the thrill of anticipation is lost. 

I've tried explaining it to my kids. "It's kind of like waiting for the next episode of 'Glee,'" I say. "Only it's twenty years since Mr. Schuester told Emma he was getting a divorce. Wouldn't you be dying of excitement to find out what happened?" "Maybe after twenty years he won't think she's pretty anymore," they surmised. "But if he'd seen her every day, he wouldn't have noticed how old she got." 

Um ... is it too late to turn this train around?


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14 comments so far | Post a comment now
katherine k May 18, 2010, 8:17 AM

just because u can talk to h.s friends doesn’t mean you will..constantly…college …jobs…u become busy…

Sue B May 21, 2010, 2:11 PM

I agree with you Beth - I can’t wait for the next reunion - I’ve loved every one we’ve had. I feel sorry for kids these days. I’m sorry I missed you all at the mini-reunion. Have another one soon and I’ll try to make it.

Jim Golden May 21, 2010, 5:15 PM

Hi Beth, Hope you had a great time at the mini-reunion. I consider Facebook a supplement to the reunions. The little bits and pieces of old friends’ lives that are revealed only make me more anxious to see my friends again.
As for Nostalgia, I’m with you. After all, you don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.
See you at the next reunion.

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