How Facebook killed the high school reunion


David Fong - dfong@aimmediamidwest.com



I have never attended a high school reunion — not because I don’t like reunions, but more because I didn’t particularly like high school.

High school, you may be shocked to learn, is not a pleasant time for goofy kids with bad haircuts and pimples. I’ve heard people I graduated with say high school isn’t a pleasant time for anyone — although I’ve often noticed the people who said that went on lots of dates, drove cool cars, went to all the best parties and wore varsity jackets.

Yeah, you must have had it really rough.

In any event, I have always skipped my high school reunions (four and counting) in order to better repress my worst teenager memories, but I must admit, I have always been curious what one actually looks like. I think it would be fascinating to see how much people have changed — for better or worse.

Did the party animals become librarians and actuaries who never miss church on Sundays? Did the biggest nerds grow into their looks and have their outer beauty catch up with their inner beauty? (Speaking from experience, I know of at least one who remains as dorky as ever.) Did the kids voted “most likely to succeed” run into spectacular failures in life? Did the kids who spent every weekend in Saturday school become millionaires?

I think reunions are fascinating opportunities to see how much — or how little, I suppose — people can change over an extended period of time.

Or I used to, at least.

That’s because high school reunions are pretty much obsolete. They are a thing of the past. Dead and gone. Throw another shovel full of dirt on the coffin, because they are gone and never coming back. Requiem aeternam dona ei domine.

The worst part? High school reunions were murdered — and social media (primarily Facebook) has the blood on its hands.

This summer the Troy High School class of 1992 — of which I was a member — was supposed to be celebrating its 25th reunion. I say supposed to be, because the reunion itself was canceled due to lack of interest. A handful of people did everything they possibly could in an effort to make this happen, but in the end, not enough people expressed interest to justify the effort or the cost.

It’s not as though members of our class don’t care about one another — the past four reunions all were well-attended. (I’ve been told … not like I was there.) The biggest difference this time? Social media has taken away all the mystery and intrigue.

No longer do we have to wonder what happened to our class members … and show up to reunions to actually find out those answers. Facebook has made all of that information just a few clicks away. We no longer have to wonder what anyone looks like or what anyone is doing. We already know all of that information now. Facebook didn’t exist at either of my first three reunions and still was in its infancy at the last one.

In addition to destroying much of the mystery and intrigue, Facebook also has cut down on the opportunity to lie and make yourself seem as though your life has been an a far greater adventure than it really has.

It used to be that I could show up at a reunion and tell everyone, “I joined the Merchant Marines straight out of high school, then was taken hostage by Somali pirates four years later. I developed a case of Stockholm Syndrome while in captivity and would spend five years with them plundering the high seas. I found God and worked at the Kalaupapa Leper Colony near Hawaii for a stint. I lost God, got heavily into to Hawaiian surfing scene and even heavier into huffing ether and smoking peyote.

“I moved back to the mainland when I got sick of the Haole trying to take over the islands. I knocked around for awhile as a roadie for the death metal band, Cannibal Corpse. Appeared in several ‘art house movies’ — a nice way of saying it, I suppose — that I’d prefer not to talk about, but you can probably find if you are really looking. Would end up in South Florida, where I taught in a school for Haitian refugees. It was there I learned about voodoo, the religion I still practice today … it’s not at all like you see in movies.”

It used to be that I could say that to make my life seem far more interesting and substantive, but if I did that now, someone could just look on Facebook and say, “Oh really? Because it looks like you lived with your parents until you were 27 and are still kind of the same dweeb we knew in high school.”

I suppose high school reunions have some merit … I mean there is the whole matter of actual human interaction among people with whom you spent your formative years. And while that may be enough to draw some people (folks who actually had a lot of friends in high school), I’m guessing it’s not enough to get people like myself, who are merely curious (a nice way of saying “nosy”) to attend. I can find all the info I need on social media.

For the sake of the people who look forward to high school reunions every five or 10 years, I hope our class can get one together the next time around. I’d love for those folks to have fun, reconnect with friends and genuinely enjoy themselves.

Not to mention, I’d love to see the pictures on Facebook.

http://madison-press.aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_FONG_201502.jpg

David Fong

dfong@aimmediamidwest.com

David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News. Contact him at dfong@aimmediamidwest.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong

David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News. Contact him at dfong@aimmediamidwest.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong