High School Reunion. The words evoke images of old yearbooks, high school jackets, pictures of bad hair, and visions of “When we were young”. For most, high school reunions are planned 10, 15, 20 or more years after graduation. It seems like the biggest reunions are the 10 year and the 20 year. After those dates, life, death, and other factor such as distance and time seem to dwindle down the number of people interested in attending. For me my 20th reunion was certainly the biggest. Classmates from all around the country traveled to be there, take part in the games, picnics, and pictures. One guy had managed to find an unsigned yearbook in a retail shop, so he had it there being signed by everyone. There was laughter, slideshows which produced more laughter, spirit ribbons, and pictures – lots of pictures. The 25th reunion though saw only a handful of people in attendance. That reunion featured a tour of the high school the day after an evening meal and visitation session. By the time the next reunion rolled around there was some talk, but ultimately no reunion. I wondered why, but then realized the end of class reunions had finally come.
I firmly blame social media for the end of the class reunion. Our class has a class page where everyone, even people not on your friend list, can post memories, pictures, updates and other information. In social media settings like Facebook, most people have their friends tagged, they follow the post and updates daily. In many cases, at least for me, I have found I now know more about my former classmates than I did when we were in high school! I know what their kids are doing, I know what they are doing, I know what teams they cheer for, I know who they like and who they don’t (fortunately I’m liked for the most part) and often I even know what they had for dinner last night. I know when they are sad, happy, and even when they experience loss and grief. Those same friends are exposed to my jokes, post about my kids, and sometimes, though rarely, a picture of what I had for dinner too! The bottom line is we are all connected.
Since reunions are about re-connecting it is problematic that we continue to be connected. You are supposed to reconnect with your old friends and find out what they have been up to since you last saw them at each reunion. Reunions are where you have traditionally learned of deaths, marriages, births, and all the many changes that life brings to each one of us daily. But now, with social media, and especially sites like Facebook, we rarely have a need to “reconnect” because simply put, we are never disconnected. For some of us, seeing those familiar faces makes us thrilled almost as much as a reunion could. I still see friends, even sometimes on other friend’s timelines, from high school and the memories come flooding back. Ironically, many of the connections I have today were only acquaintances in high school. We would pass in the hall, share a class together, and maybe see each other in the lunch room or at a dance or game. Most of the time we simply ran with different groups of friends. Now some of those same people who were acquaintances in high school, have become some of the people I talk to the most on Facebook. It’s like a great big reunion where we all realize how dumb we were as kinds or how silly some fight was back then. We’ve grown up. We’ve grown mature. With that growing up and growing mature our likes and dislikes have changed. Some of the people I talked to the most in high school, I never talk too much now. Some of the people I rarely talked with in high school, now occupy my mind when I scan the Facebook post to see if they have said anything today. I joke with them, I laugh with them, and we talk a lot about “back then”. Usually we end up talking about things going on these days. I’m thankful for my friends during high school and those after high school. Facebook has allowed me to be blessed with some wonderful midnight conversations and some wonderful Saturday afternoon chats. In the big picture, I don’t need reunions anymore. My friends have never left thanks to social media. Whether we are a few hours apart, or around the world from each other, we can have a reunion all the time with social media, and I would not trade those reunions for any planned formal reunion in the world.
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