Jun 232010

Recently I read an article examining Facebook’s role in class reunions.  I found particularly interesting the speculation that Facebook was responsible for declining attendance.

It makes some sense.  Facebook makes it so easy to keep up with everyone, so what’s the point of putting on a tie, having baked chicken and vegetable medley, then stumbling through a few chemically enhanced dance steps with Lily what’s-her-name from 20 years ago?

I don’t really see it making much difference in terms of where your class is now, either.  Several of my high school classmates have moved away, but I suspect a solid majority of them are still within 25 miles of Madison.  You might think that’d be an ongoing impetus to get together there, but you’d be wrong.  Perhaps it’s different for other people, but I’ve found that just because it’s easy to get together casually doesn’t mean it happens very often.

I think I agree with the view that Facebook hurts face-to-face reunion prospects.  The kinds of things about a person you’re going to take from such a meeting are generally already present on a Facebook profile, and if you want more than that from a person, you don’t wait to see that person every ten years, you know?

Everyone’s got their own piles of stuff going on.  That momentum—of family, of career, of adulthood in general—is formidable.  I think Facebook robs the nostalgic urge of a lot of its spirit, and its larceny is effective enough to deny many reunions critical mass.

I think that explains the rise in multi-year reunions (one of which my class is part of later this year).  I’m interested to see if that’s the new normal, or if it’s just a stop-over on the way to extinction.

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 Posted by at 7:01 am

  5 Responses to “Is online social networking killing the class reunion?”

  1. I dunno. When I left central NY in fall of 1986, it was so long and don’t wait up for me. Now, twenty-odd years later, I still don’t much miss the people who lived to make my life a living hell.

    OTOH, I really wanted to attend my 20 year cluster reunion at college. Supposedly a lot of the coordination was being done via Facebook, but information was so spotty that I couldn’t justify the plane fare, hotel, and party fees.

    Some folks like to get together and reminisce. Some don’t. I don’t see FB and the like as damaging that any more than I see it killing regular kinds of face-to-face contact.

  2. See, I guess I’ve seen a lot of stupid high school shit melt away in adulthood. I’ve had some forgiving to do, but I’ve needed some forgiving too. My experience is that it’s easier to be buddies when we’ve got kids and mortgages.

    Your comment about it killing face-to-face contact intrigues me. I don’t know that it’s altered my behavior in that regard, but I’m going to try to be as impartial an observer of it as possible from here on out.

  3. I made the decision to not attend any of my high school reunions long before FB – right after I graduated from high school, in fact. The people I wanted to stay in touch with from high school? I’ve stayed in touch with them. The rest of them? I’m either indifferent to or they can just plain go pound sand.

    I find FB useful for staying in contact with friends and family who are just to far away to see on any kind of regular basis. It’s also been great for finding long-lost friends.

  4. I was everything but popular in high school. I grew up just a ****-hair above “food-stamp poor”, and completely lacked the self-awareness and social skills necessary to overcome wearing inexpensive clothes, driving inexpensive cars, and my god-given less than friendly personality. I was just a stupid kid then, and it’s kind of silly to hold grudges against folks you may perceive to have wronged you who were also just stupid kids. I skipped my first couple of high school reunions. I went to the last one and was surprised at how friendly everybody was and by how much fun I had. Give it a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?

  5. Lee, I understand both sides, but lean toward your thinking. I never had any truly serious problems with bullying or in-crowd/out-crowd nonsense, but it wasn’t an altogether smooth trip for me. You’re right; we were all kids, and now we’re all adults, and that does make a big difference.

    I have a delightful acquaintanceship now with a woman who once called me a “glorified geek.” 🙂

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