(Posted from The Publeconomist, published 12/28/09)
Now that we have Facebook, is it still necessary to attend our high schools reunions?
In the past couple of months I've received Facebook friend requests from a bunch of people in my high school graduating class. Somewhere, somehow, someone set off a chain reaction. It's impossible that years after graduation, about thirty-forty people all of the sudden wondered what I was up to, and found me on Facebook (and all within a couple months!). When I checked out the profiles of these former high school classmates, I realized that they'd been going on "adding sprees," befriending as many people from our yearbook as possible.
At first I was dumbfounded. I had never even talked to most of these people, so why should they have such a window into my personal life? But curiosity is truly addicting, and I quickly found myself up to no good: doing the same thing that all these people were doing. I was browsing their friends lists for former classmates.
And this was the best thing ever! It was a reunion that I didn't have to attend in person. That I didn't have to pay $35 for, or worry about bringing my gay partner to. I was able to see what everyone's doing, what they look like, if they've had a rough time since college or never went in the first place, or are currently expecting their third child. In most of the profiles I could see what they were doing for work, and where they were living.
So what's the point of a reunion? And isn't the Facebook thing slightly creepy when you think about its consequences on a high school reunion? Imagine you show up at the 10-year, and start up a conversation with an old friend, and because of their internet profile you're already familiar with everything that they're about to tell you: where do they work, where have they vacationed, how many kids, where they met their wife, etc. Because of Facebook, you've exhausted almost any curiosity in the standard reunion dialogue. Not only that, but now there's no longer any fun. What's the point of betting on which classmate has turned into the biggest mess when you already have access to every classmate's photos and status updates on your Facebook homepage?
I'm not sure what to do about this one. Facebook certainly isn't encouraging me to attend any future high school reunions. I feel like I've opened my Christmas presents early!
I will comment on one thing, though, and I truly hope it doesn't offend anyone. But, thank God I'm gay! I mean it. Thank God that I'm a gay man. I don't know why, but these straight people seem to age quickly. I can't even tell you how many straight former classmates of mine used to look stunningly beautiful in high school and two kids later (or some college kegs...) look about 10 years older than they really are.
So I thank you, gay community, for being superficial and vain. For guilt-tripping gay men into eating healthy, working out every day, using moisturizers, and fighting aging. Thank you for encouraging us to dress slim. To <em>be</em> slim. Or if not slim, then muscular. The gay scene can be quite brutal, but discipline certainly pays off. Especially when it comes time to add former classmates on Facebook.
Anthony DiFiore, Publisher
Follow me on Twitter: @theingroup