Face to face or via Facebook? The new class reunion dilemma
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:01AM
It’s Facebook official: Bloom Trail High School Class of 1982 will have a reunion in October.
I didn’t hesitate to click “Yes” to let others know I’ll attend. Then all of the usual questions rushed through my mind. Who else will be there? Wonder what everyone will look like? What will people think of how I look? And on and on.
Then I smiled. The real question is how much any of us resembles our profile pictures.
Facebook, Twitter, Flickr — essentially anything we now call “social media” — didn’t exist the last time my classmates got together for a reunion. Last time around we dutifully carried around a picture or two (sometimes more) of our children or our pets to show to anyone and everyone. Our answer to “What have you been up to?” was well worn before dessert was served.
Will we need either this time around? I can’t remember the last time I printed a photograph. I suspect we’ll spend a lot of time passing around people’s phones to see the latest pictures of our kids, our pets or our mid-life crisis sports car. (For the record, I don’t have a sports car.)
I guess it can’t hurt to polish up the elevator pitch. Opportunities can supposedly pop up anywhere, and if the banquet hall doesn’t have Wi-Fi getting to Facebook or LinkedIn won’t be convenient.
Nearly 450 of us graduated together. I don’t know if all are Facebook users but I’ve friended at least 150 people from high school. I see some classmates are as wacky and outrageous as they ever were. I see some got religion — and they want everyone to know it. And still others like the games and want me to join their teams. (I don’t play FB games but still hope I’m not the last one picked for the team.)
Some classmates share so much information that reading it leaves me feeling awkward. Sometimes it isn’t the posts either. I recently received a friend request from a classmate I’m pretty sure was listed among those who had passed away prior to the last reunion. That request is still pending.
My classmates, at our last reunion, voted me the person who had changed the least since high school. I’m still not sure if that’s something to feel good about, but the clock I won hangs on a wall in my living room.
Much has changed since our last get-together. But I’ll be something of a mystery to my classmates if they rely on Facebook to keep up. I don’t post a lot about my personal life. I might say something about a graduation or a birthday party. Maybe a soccer game. But you’re not likely to know how I spent my vacation or where I had dinner.
While Facebook makes it easier to find classmates come reunion time, it also is cited as a reason some classmates don’t attend, according to an article published in The (Nashville) Tennessean in September 2011. At same time, the newspaper reported, Facebook and other social websites were credited with easing some of the anxiety of going to a class reunion.
Financial Times columnist Deborah Copaken Kogan, in a blog post on Reuters in February 2012, contends it is silly to blame social media for a decline in reunion attendance. “(S)crolling down an endless stream of status updates . . . makes me want to see them in person more, not less.”
Has Facebook killed the class reunion? I doubt it. Facebook might have cut out some of the fudge factor, but that’s not such a bad thing. Is it?
Bill Ruminski is a Sun-Times Media web editor who oversees the Doings and Pioneer websites.