Monday, September 17, 2012

Thanks Facebook: A school reunion made even more fun

Over the weekend, I attended my 20th high school reunion. (Yes, go on, do the calculations, I already know the answer: that makes me OLD!). Five years ago, I went to my first reunion, having been overseas when the ten-year reunion took place. There was a huge difference between these two events, and funnily enough, the reason for that is simple: Facebook!

Back in 2007, Facebook was just starting up (it only opened up to the general public in 2006) and I had got in touch with a handful of old school friends there. In the vast majority of cases at the fifteen-year reunion, I knew nothing of the life and times of my old classmates and they knew nothing of me, so I felt like I spent the entire evening regurgitating my life-story-since-high-school and asking other people for theirs. To be honest, that got a bit exhausting and I ended up not saying hello to at least half of the people I would have liked to catch up with.

Twenty years ago ... of course we all look just the same now ;-)
Wind the clock forward to now, and Facebook is as invasive and pervasive as ... something that's really, really pervasive! The reunion itself was organised almost exclusively via a private group on Facebook, and I've become "friends" with nearly all of the classmates I could remember from high school. While we may not have physically seen each other for a long time - in quite a few cases, the full two decades - we knew quite a lot about whether or not we were married, how cute our various children were, and all kinds of other things that we'd gleaned from various Facebook updates over the years.

And I think this made the reunion extra-wonderful. I could go up to a long-lost friend and say hello and we could skip the boring "What are you doing now?" and cut straight to the "I loved the pictures of your Bali holiday" and "Did you decide what to do about that job offer?" kind of discussions. Conversations that mean a bit more than just regurgitating your CV. Conversations that were different for every person I spoke to. And there were even people who told me they often read my blog! I had no idea (and was so excited to hear it).

When I run Facebook talks and courses, there are usually a couple in the crowd who want to harp on about all the "bad stuff" about Facebook, and I counter with a big list of "good stuff". The reunion on the weekend proved it to me again - there is definitely some really "good stuff" about using Facebook.

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