Last week my aunt attended her 20th high school reunion. She posted a photo on Facebook of her high school I.D. card, complete with blonde hair teased and hair-sprayed with at least one bottle. I was actually quite shocked at the difference between what she looked like then and now (she’s my aunt by marriage, not blood, so I haven’t known her my whole life).
The next week I hung out with one of my friends from high school. She was back from taking summer classes at school and had to leave for recruitment the next week. I started thinking about if we would attend our 5 year high school reunion, or eventually our 20th. When I was a young girl and I watched movies which featured high school reunions, I remember thinking how amazing and wonderful they were– you got to see who made it, who didn’t make it, who married others in their class, who divorced, whose career is better, and, of course, you get to have everyone see you. But back when students graduated in the 90’s, 80’s, and before, Facebook didn’t exist. When they had been graduated for 5 years, social media existed in the form of emails. To keep in contact with friends from high school you had to keep their phone numbers and their email addresses. My mother went to high school in London, even though she was born and now lives in the U.S. Do you think she has ever gone to one of her high school reunions? Never. Not once. My father went to school up north. Has he ever been to a high school reunion? Never. Not once. They both have Facebook (and we were in London one week before my mother’s high school reunion in 2010).
I find it somewhat worrying. It might be the traditionalist lover in me. But these days we drive cars that have web surfacing capabilities. You can have a chat with your phone (which I find quite creepy, and yes, a little pathetic). You can hop into the bathroom while on a date and quickly search the web to make sure he or she never went to jail. What would happen if you just asked the person, though? If you circled around the question for a little before jumping in tactfully? It could start a very interesting conversation on what could be a very nice date, instead of hiding in the bathroom and talking to your phone about it.
I don’t know if I’ll attend my 5 year high school reunion. I’m friends on Facebook with nearly all the members of my class (192), except a few I hardly knew and didn’t really care about and so I un-friended them (oops…). I can log on at any time and see what they’re up to: Oh, they went to the mountains this weekend! Hey, I forgot she was born on my parents’ anniversary date. Interesting. Why did she un-friend me?? We’ve known each other since pre-school! Anyone can look at your profile (if you’re friends) and figure out what you’re up to. And high school reunions used to serve that exact purpose. They hand our name tags in case people don’t recognize you. But now you can just pull up their profile picture.
I believe high school reunions are becoming obsolete. It makes me sad. Talking face to face is so much different than stalking their profile. We all know Facebook lies sometimes. We exaggerate, we put on a fake smile, we pretend to look happy sometimes. It makes me sad because I believe my high school and even college friends and I will slowly drift apart because we always think we have the lifeboat that is Facebook to hold on to. I can imagine that I’ll start to think to myself, “Kelly texted me that she’s going to Africa to do service work…I should ask her how that is. Well, I’ll look online and see if she posted any photos.” And then pretty soon I’ll delude myself into thinking that that’s a better way than calling my friend up and listening to her personal stories, the ones she didn’t post on Facebook or Twitter.
It saddens me, and although I think I can get over myself and call up a close friend instead of talking through Twitter, I’m afraid for the future. Again, this may be the traditionalist in me, but I don’t think I’m alone on this one. I’m sure you could come up with a billion different ways in which technology benefits us, but does it trump meeting with an old friend face to face?