Five years ago I set out to determine whether Facebook killed the high school reunion for a piece I wrote in the Hollywood Journal. If you’d like to read that previous post first, please do so now because SPOILERS are coming….
So, what did I conclude five years ago? Did Facebook kill the high school reunion? Much to my surprise…it had not! And here I am, five years later, with a last minute ‘high school non-reunion “reunion” for those who will be in town over Thanksgiving’ informal invite, staring at me in my Facebook newsfeed.
Now, here’s the thing: I live across the country from my hometown. Thanks to Facebook keeping me connected to old friends, I feel like I’m home but without the cold weather.
As luck would have it though, I am going to be in town for the reunion. However, since the last reunion five years ago, not only can I keep up with my friends on Facebook, but also I can now do so in the Twittersphere and IGLand.
The social media channels to connect with have at least tripled since my last reunion!
Using the latest technology (uh, texting), I put on my journalist hat and texted my high school friends:
Are you going to the reunion?
Before I could even get a response, a friend texted me first and said,
Are you going? I’m out of town, but I could come back early. I don’t know, I have hang ups. Never mind I’m going to skip it.
The more people I spoke to prior to the event, the more I heard,
I don’t know.
I don’t want to.
I live here, I see everyone.
I quickly learned, no matter how much time had passed, I was not the only one with the high school hang ups.
Even though I hung up my hang up long ago, I have a friend who has not let go of the fact that I even ever had a hang up! FYI, it’s not just me, dude! So based on these responses I then wondered,
Do we even miss these friends? Do we really wonder about them when we know more about them now than we did when they sat next to us in homeroom?
For the sake of these unanswered questions swirling in my mind, and for you, the reader, I decided we all needed to know once and for all whether Facebook and all the other social media has really truly killed the high school reunion…or did high school just do it on its own?
I will attend my non-reunion “reunion” for you. I’m doing this for you, dammit!
Let’s set the scene: It was a cold November night in a small east coast town.
Monsoon-like rains fell hard. (I live in LA and if it rains longer than 20 minutes, I consider it a monsoon). The air was cold and I had a blog due the next day. I worried that no one would show up to our non-reunion “reunion” and that I would not be able to answer this question five years later. Who wants to go out in this crappy weather?!
But alas, I braved the elements, and decided that I would blame it on the rain that was falling, falling, if the non-reunion “reunion” turn out was low. Because Milli Vanilli said I could.
My wing people weren’t showing. My old posse (I went to high school in the ‘90s, so I am allowed to say posse) was not going to be there.
My comfort level was off. But yet, she persevered.
My husband and I entered the tavern-esque bar, the kind I would seek out in LA to feel like I’m home. (But rarely do you find a bar there with pics of mallards on the wall.) We headed towards the area set aside for our non-reunion “reunion.” And I heard a group of people scream someone’s name, a la “Norm!” from Cheers. Then as I entered the room, I received a Norm-like greeting, “Jill Effron!” And like a shy toddler, I buried my head in my husband’s chest. I like to hide behind a camera or my words.
That’s way to much attention for me.
As I warmed up, figuratively and physically (because WOW it’s cold where I’m from!) I made my way around the room to say hi to people and of course wondered, “Did Facebook kill the high school reunion again (even if it was a non-reunion “reunion”)?”
And the answer, my dear readers…NO, IT DID NOT!! (Close your mouth, you look like you’re catching flies). Not gonna lie, prior to the event, I really thought it had.
Here are 10 reasons why the high school reunion is still alive and kicking:
- Algorithms. As we all know not everyone sees our posts. So really, we think we know everything about everyone but we don’t, and you can still learn something new about your friends.
- You actually have to be a little bit real. We can hide behind our perfect vacations and dream houses and fish faces. Truth be told, when you’re face-to-face with a person and look them in the eyes when you speak, you will see beyond the Fakebook perfection.
- Human connections. Your body is a magnet and you will innately gravitate towards the people you hung out with the most (or in this case, still do) and they will be your safety net. No matter how much time has passed, they will make you feel safe. (and by safe, I mean, less anxious)
- Intonation. I say that a lot in a world of texting and status updates. When talking to a friend in person, especially one you have not seen in a while, intonation is everything. An ! or an 😉 cannot hold a candle to hearing emotions from someone’s mouth.
- Actions. There’s no action on Facebook, just words. But in this case whether it was posing for a new group photo every time someone entered the room, or describing something to a friend using gestures – that just does not translate well on a status update.
- Voices. Different than intonation. There is something about hearing someone’s voice that can be soothing. Or grating. Or annoying. Or triggering. But in the end, voices.
- Living the past in the present. When else do you really have a chance to set time aside to talk about fun times of the past? No one is scheduling coffee or drink dates to do that. This is the time and place for reminiscing.
- Time travel. You will look at 2 grown men standing before you and suddenly be transported to the past, in my case, elementary school, and things you have forgotten about come bubbling up and out of the mouth, providing a good laugh for everyone.
- Growth. You realize people don’t change, they grow up. They will always be that boy who distracted you in history class, or the girl from your lacrosse team who was always singing and cheering, or the one who was always trying to leave a party early. But just older, and maybe wiser.
- And the number one reason why I think the high school reunion (non-reunion) is still alive and kicking, is the one thing Facebook cannot give and that is a hug. You cannot beat a hug from a childhood friend. You just cannot.
In conclusion, Facebook and other social media have altered many things, particularly, how we view each other’s lives. However, in my opinion, social media has not, and I really don’t think it has the power to, kill the high school reunion. The hug will keep it alive. I guarantee it.