Has Facebook affected class reunions?

That was the question Canadian Broadcast Company’s Maritime Noon show asked. I was recently asked to help answer that question on the call-in show and a lively discussion followed with their listeners. Of course, there was the listener who called in to say he’d never consider going to a reunion but he, or one of his ilk, always call in when the subject of reunions is featured. The rest of the callers, however, spoke very positively about how Facebook and social media have made staying in touch and planning their reunions much easier. In fact, research suggests that communication with people online tends to strengthen relationships. It has lowered the cost of maintaining friendships as well as reduced the cost of planning reunions.

We used to say, go back to your high school yearbooks before the reunion to remind yourself about classmates. Read their comments, remember events, clubs, activities and the people who made them important. It’s still fun to look at the books but studying Facebook pages before the reunion can help you learn what everyone is up to. Now, instead of perfunctory small talk, you can make time for more meaningful conversations than just “So, what have you been up to?”

“But could Facebook be responsible for reunions someday disappearing?” someone asked. It doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon, if at all, for the same reason reunions have always provided answers to the curiosity we all have about the classmates with whom we spent so much of our formative years. I doubt what I wondered about many years ago could be much different than what people who came after me wonder about. Except that now Facebook may answer some of those questions along the way. Peruse your classmates’ Facebook pages and you are quickly up-to-date on the facts. What’s changed? Where are they now? married? single? kids? profession? interests? Knowing all that is well and good, but you’d still like to see that dude you played football with or sat behind in English class or ate lunch with all the way from elementary school.

Of course, exploring Facebook eliminates a lot of the mystery of the years since you’ve seen one another but it’s still not the same as an in-person meeting. In fact, on Facebook, there is no warmth, no touching. But at reunions you can touch, shake hands, hear laughter, see smiles, feel a genuine hug that melts the years away. By being all up to date on each other’s lives, you can forgo all the questions that used to consume the entire reunion because you’ve read it all on Facebook. Now you can settle in and have a more significant conversation, reminisce, wax nostalgic, recall fun times … all of which makes the reunion experience ever so much more rewarding.

Then, we must wonder if the question is Facebook OR reunion? Is it fair to assume that knowing more from Face-book would make you less likely to want to see someone in person? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that knowing all you do from Facebook would make you want to see them more, not less? Knowing turns curiosity into excitement and anticipation and makes the reunion an important event not to be missed.

When it comes to reunions, seize the opportunity and, by all means, post your pictures on Facebook to show those who missed out and who admit they go to Facebook to see the pictures, even if they were not there! EW

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