Add this to the list of human experiences Facebook has apparently ruined: the high school reunion.
The New York Times style section ran a piece this weekend asking the question, “Rembember me from yesterday?” With social networks like Facebook becoming a high school of sorts on its own (where you virtually pass by casual acquaintances, friends, and “frenemies” alike), is there any mystery left for attending your high school reunion?
“Social networking has robbed us of our nostalgia,” Michael Fox told the Times. He’d attended his 20-year high school reunion last month and found himself underwhelmed. The long-awaited 10 or 20 year reunion has served as a touchstone for so many films, television shows, and books has lost its magical sense of opportunity for reinvention or second chances, mainly because everyone pretty much knows what you’re up to. For those not on a social networking site, some simple Googling is all it takes to at least find a work profile or some trace of what’s happened after high school.
The NY Times also spoke with reunion organizer Donna DeFilippis, owner and president of Renions of America, who said that the feel of reunions has changed: “It used to be that you walked in the door totally blind, and there was such energy and excitement in the room.”
As portrayed in film and TV, reunions are a chance for outsiders and nerds to prove they’ve blossomed and become successful, while the popular queen bee and jock have fizzled out into leading mundane lives, having hit their prime in high school. But whereas Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and others playing on the “reunion revenge” trope depend upon the mystery of years apart, Facebook could bring people closer together. Bypassing small talk, classmates can already have common knowledge to jump off into conversation and have a feeling of familiarity intact.
However, the Times reports that the number of reunions being held each year has been on the decline, perhaps in part due to the recession, but also because the element of curiosity needed to motivate some people to attend is no longer there. So, what’s more important: staying connected with friends from your past or feeling shocked at your 10-year reunion?
For those hoping to be surprised and be surprising, they could always just deactivate their social profiles.