Sara Pauff: Facebook and class reunions

November 21, 2011 

Like many people, I plan on traveling to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

This isn’t a long trip for me. A little over an hour on the interstate and I’m “home for the holidays.”

Being this close to home post-college has its pros and cons. Not having to catch a plane to make Thanksgiving dinner? That’s something to be thankful for.

But even though I live comparatively close to the town where I grew up and went to high school, I don’t intend to spend a lot of time this holiday catching up with old high school friends.

Traditionally, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is “Blackout Wednesday,” -- one of the biggest party nights of the year, as well as a chance to hang out at a bar with all the people from your hometown that you haven’t seen in ages.

It can sort of serve the same purpose as a class reunion. You show up, hoping your former classmates will think you’ve grown up and improved. You pray your life is cool enough now to impress your high school crush and make all the “mean girls” eat their words. You rave over how much time has passed. It’s been so long since high school. It’s amazing how much everyone has changed, isn’t it?

Well, it would be -- if you hadn’t been following their every move on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. Meeting up with old friends -- close friends, the people who really knew you way back then -- is always better in person than it is through social networking. You can have a real conversation, instead of just exchanging links and liking posts.

But what about the people you don’t expect to have a real conversation with? The people that you were never good friends with, but you always wondered what happened to them?

You could go to a “Blackout Wednesday” bash in your hometown or a class reunion and make awkward small talk (made even more awkward by the fact that everyone is drinking), all for the sake of finding out what the prom queen looks like now. Or you could just go to Facebook and scroll through her photo albums. No small talk or drunken conversations involved.

I wonder sometimes if social networks like Facebook and Twitter will eventually destroy the need for large, organized class reunions all together. Instead of meeting up every ten years to pull out old yearbook photos and reminisce, old classmates can chat, exchange photos and plan smaller meet-ups whenever they want.

Of course, social networking could also facilitate more reunions. A co-worker of mine recently got her ten-year reunion invite through Facebook.

As for me, I’ve got nearly two years before the ten-year anniversary of my high school graduation. If I’m still close to home, I might go. Or I might just stalk everyone through Facebook.

Contact Sara Pauff at 706-320-4469 or spauff@ledger-enquirer.com. For more commentary, read her 20-something blog at www.ledger-enquirer.com/sara,/a>.

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