As we have learned in our Technology Surveys, sometimes the winds of change are blowing so hard that we don’t notice some of the small changes along the way. Today, jacAPPS’ Alex Young comments about how social media may be putting a damper on all those high school reunions – especially for the Gen Y community.
Has Facebook replaced the high school reunion, or just the small talk? Are these anticipated or dreaded events the next endangered species, thanks to Internet phenomena like Facebook?
About a year ago, some former classmates of mine created a Facebook Event page solely to provide information about our 10 year high school reunion scheduled for this fall. The group allows me to see who’s attending, who’s not, and who’s still on the fence.
It also allows me to friend any old classmate I was wondering about, or hadn’t spoken to since graduation, and gather every possible bit of information about them, down to what side dish they had with dinner three weeks ago. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this ruin the surprise? And isn’t surprise the point of a reunion in the first place? Should it be required to have your Facebook URL and current picture on your nametag? Maybe our current popularity should be based on how many FB friends we have.
Many of my high school friends that have moved out-of-state have already thrown out the excuse that they know everything about everyone already, so why make a special trip for the event? I mean, Facebook has already revealed whether Susie Q made it on Broadway, or that Tommy, the high school football captain, was recently unemployed for 18 months before landing a job as the night janitor.
From similar conversations, I learned that most graduates who still live in the area or who will be home for the holiday still plan on attending. But for those who have moved away, the drama and anticipation have been diluted.
Recently, I had a text message conversation with my best friend. We decided that we wanted to join in on the reunion fun, but that just leads to more questions:
If I already know everything going on in a former classmate’s life, what will we talk about? It eliminates the whole getting to re-know you phase of the reunion banter.
Should I pretend like I haven’t spent the last 4-5 years sharing every momentous occasion with them on their FB page (job change, marriage, baby, etc.)?
Or should I spend the evening counting how many times I say, “Oh, I remember seeing that on Facebook?"
I spent no shortage of time on my iPhone, and I’m not playing Labyrinth or Tweeting. I am probably using my FB app to get information about my former grads so I don’t end up the one looking like a fool.
On the flipside, my cousin skipped her 10th, 15th and 20th year reunions. She said she had absolutely no desire to travel back to her hometown 2,500 miles away just to hang out with a bunch of people with whom she probably had nothing in common with anymore. Yet, since she joined Facebook and reconnected with a lot of those people, she might be more compelled to attend the 25th. Facebook helped her figure out that while there may be a lack of commonality with some old friends, there are others she wasn’t close to in high school who just might merit some face time… and that’s all thanks to Facebook.
I have come to the conclusion that while Facebook might not yet completely replace the high school reunion, it definitely takes the edge off it. All of the dirty little secrets are already out of the bag.
We already know which of us is going bald, can’t find our waistlines, or were unable to translate popularity into a multi-million dollar career. Our Facebook connections create an atmosphere that is less about who became famous and who gained 50 pounds and more about people with a common past getting together to have a good time.
And isn’t that the way it should be anyway?