Monday, July 27, 2009

Facebook--Taking Me Way Back

I was ecstatic the first time I wrote about Facebook and reconnecting with so many friends from the past. A month later I wrote that the thrill was gone. Now, some three months after joining the world of social networking, I have to say that I am thoroughly hooked! Facebook (and social networking in general) has to be one of the greatest innovations of our time.

I have more than 200 Facebook friends with new ones coming on board all the time. Nearly half--91 as of this moment--are friends from elementary, junior high, and/or high school. The next biggest group (at 56 now) includes coworkers from around the state. About 20 of my FB friends are colleagues that work in other states. Of the rest, ten are connected to a board I'm on, seven are kinfolk, about a half-dozen are former students and five were in my Boy Scout troop. Another dozen or so defy categorization.

The more friends you have, the longer it takes to read through all the posts that have gone up since the last time you looked. I had to pare down. I "unfriended" anyone that I don't really know and blocked several that either post too much or post crap I don't want to read. I also block all the quizzes and applications so that all that's left are posts from people I know. Still, it takes a lot of time to keep up with the day-to-day activities of some 200 friends.

I have a deep, abiding affection for all of my classmates from that era. I knew everyone in my grade in 3rd through 6th grades. We hooked up with kids from two additional elementary schools for what was then known as junior high (7th through 9th grades). I at least knew who everyone was by the end of 9th grade. Senior high mixed in kids from three other junior highs. I knew most of them by the time graduation rolled around.

It's interesting to see how much people change from the tweens and teens to the fifties. Among my classmates are a rocket scientist, a well-known political cartoonist, numerous doctors, lawyers and and professors at universities all over the United States, including Harvard. The closest thing we had to an anarchist (ok--maybe an exaggeration but you know how extreme everything was in high school) entered the military, became an MP and then a safety inspector for OSHA. I could go on. What and who people were in high school isn't much of a predictor of what they'll be doing more than 30 years later.

My affection today extends beyond those that were in my circle of friends more than 35 years ago. I've met several of my former classmates for the first time recently via Facebook. Maybe our paths never crossed, or maybe we ran in circles that would never intersect or overlap (again, remember how black and white the world was then). We've always had mutual friends but never really had the opportunity to get to know each other personally. In almost every case, I find myself wishing we had been friends way back when.

No matter what I may think about my youth and upbringing today, I had no awareness at the time that my world was any different from anyone else. That was probably true for all of us. No matter the circumstances, if that's all you have ever seen it looks normal to you. I was blissfully happy then mostly because I was too dumb to know any better. Reconnecting with friends and acquaintances from that time makes me feel good, probably because it plugs directly into those feelings from the past.

In truth, I have very little to bitch about. I've known for a long time how important my huge, extended family was and is to me. But it's only through Facebook and reconnecting with so many, many people from so long ago that I have come to appreciate how blessed I am to have had so many friends in my life. I mean it.

The Crotchety Old Man

1 comment:

MadeMark said...

I'm glad you like Facebook. I've stayed on it, and reconnected with some people I'd all but forgotten. I don't have nearly 200 friends, but the angst-ridden adolescent in me was reminded that I had a few! Back then I thought I was alone in the world, but as one woman from high school reminded me, I told her I was gay at 16. I don't spend much time on the site (I rely on BlackBerry) so I don't see a lot of what people are putting up, which is good for me. I might decide it was too much flotsam. I'm not addicted (that's reserved for blogging) but it's been a good way to reconnect with people.

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