Saturday, July 18, 2009

Will Facebook Destroy The High School Reunion?



There's a fascinating post (with hundreds of comments) up at Scienceblogs.com.

Mark Chu-Carroll, a Ph.D. who works at Google, writes extensively and passionately about why he's not attending his 25th high school reunion.

Now it's twenty five years since I got out of that miserable fucking hell-hole. And people from my high school class are suddenly getting in touch, sending me email, trying to friend me on Facebook, and trying to convince me to bring my family to the reunion. (It's a picnic reunion, full family invited.) Even some of the people who used to beat the crap out of me on a regular basis are getting in touch as if we're old friends.

My reaction to them... What the fuck is wrong with you people? Why would you think that I would want to have anything to do with you? How do you have the chutzpah to act as if we're old friends? How dare you? I see the RSVP list that one of you sent me, and I literally feel nauseous just remembering your names.

And that's all that I want from you. Stay the fuck away from me. I don't want to hear about your lives. I don't want to know how you've changed since high school. I don't want to hear about your jobs, your spouses, your children. I've got a good life now, and I cannot imagine a reason in the world why I would pollute that world with contact with any of you.

Heavy stuff. Then again, some dude actually doused his lawn with gasoline and lit a burning swastika. I probably wouldn't forgive that either.

The comments on the post were generally in enthusiastic agreement, though a few chided Mark for not letting go of old animosities. (I think those criticisms are a bit unfair; it's not like he wants to hold on--it's just that people keep bugging him.)

But a bigger question is, in the Facebook age, is there any reason to hold a high school reunion?

Presumably you've stayed in touch with anyone you cared to maintain a relationship with (in Mark's case, nobody). Therefore, the only reasons to go to a reunion are:

1) To find out who went bald or got fat

2) If you've watched too many movies, and go in an ill-advised attempt to finally hook up with your former crush, who may or may not be a gay porn star

If we treat (2) as the inherently bad idea that it is, that leaves (1). Enter Facebook.

Younger generations will never have to wonder about who went bald or got fat; Facebook will document their decaying physiques in real time.

I graduated from high school in 1990, which means my 20-year reunion is coming up next year. Time to hit Facebook and see what Father Time has done to my old classmates!

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