Has social media made high school reunions a thing of the past?
I remember, one early summer day in late June, seeing photos from my high school graduation pop up in my social media feeds, and shaking my head in disbelief at the realization that I graduated high school 10 years ago. I briefly wondered if there would be some sort of high school reunion and then forgot all about it…such is typical for the constant assault of memories, stories, videos, and photos that social media blesses us with every waking hour. That is, until earlier this week, when I received a Facebook invite to my 10-year class reunion, scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving.
My lovely former classmate sent out an invite to let the class of 2007 know that he’d reserved two tables at a bar in our hometown, hoping to catch up with everyone, presumably all 292 of our happy, shining, scary-close-to-thirty faces.
So far, it seems 19 people are going, and 16 are “interested” in going. The valedictorian kindly let us all know she would be celebrating Thanksgiving out of state but wished she could be there. It’d be cool to catch up, she said.
As a kid, I remember my parents going to their high school reunions, which were usually held at a hotel ballroom in a neighboring town. They seemed like such big, momentous occasions. My mom usually had to convince my dad to go, but I loved hearing their chatter afterwards about what people were up to these days: who was married, who was divorced, who had kids, who didn’t.
The allure of such an event seemed to hinge on the expectation that people you knew a decade (or two, or three) ago would be somehow different, or even somehow exactly the same.
It was that intrigue or mystery about people you hadn’t seen in so many years and what they’re like now…and maybe a little smug curiosity of seeing how your classmates “turned out” as full-fledged adults.
But when you see those people every single day by way of Facebook posts, Instagram photos, tweets, Snapchat selfies, and LinkedIn updates (LOL), is there even a point to having high school reunions?
Sure, I may not physically see people from high school on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean I’m in the dark about what goes on in their lives. I know that Erika just spent the weekend in Boston with her boyfriend, and that Susan dressed up with her roommates as sexy cats for Halloween. I even know they got home around 1:30 in the morning, per her Snapchat videos showing when they finally took their makeup off.
Class reunions used to be the only way for people to reconnect with people they spent their first 18 years with and presumably never saw again for the next 10, but with our social media networks continually growing, the inherent need seems to have diminished.
In an age when we’re more connected to the many people who come and go in our lives, there are fewer reasons to actually spend time with them. But isn’t there something to be said about seeing someone you haven’t seen in a decade and having a conversation with them face-to-face?
As someone with pretty severe social anxiety, it was hard enough for me to socialize in high school. The thought of going back as an adult and trying to find common ground with people who could find out anything they’d need to know about me from a brief Google search is downright terrifying — and certainly enough to keep me from hitting that “I’m going” button on the event invite.
Ironically, social media was probably a great tool in its infancy for those trying to set up class reunions. Finding people became easy. There was no longer a need to call the alumni office, advertise in the local newspaper, or use the phone book to try and track down your former classmates. (No, seriously, that’s how they did it.)
But now that everyone is connected at all times, the big climax of the class reunion is reduced to daily spoilers on social media. We don’t need to wait 10 years to reunite — I’m reunited with my former classmates every day, whether I like it or not.
Don’t get me wrong: I think there’s something to be said about reminiscing with familiar faces from your past and getting to see firsthand just how cool it is when people grow up and mature beyond the painfully awkward teen years. But the excitement and mystery of a formal reunion is all but gone, leaving in its wake a series of #tbt photos and status updates.
As for whether or not I’ll be going to my high school reunion in a few weeks, I haven’t quite decided. But one thing I do know is that I look forward to seeing all the selfies the next day. #Memories, indeed.