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Has Social Media Killed the Need For High School Reunions?

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Hipstercrite: Has Social Media Killed the Need For High School Reunions?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Has Social Media Killed the Need For High School Reunions?

2011 marks my ten year high school reunion.

Gosh, I remember high school like it was yesterday.

Hanging out with my closest friends at Denny's until midnight, making out with Adam on the green shag carpet of my basement, running around the soccer field, practicing my tenor saxophone, writing one-act plays about pan-wielding, Chaka Khan-singing homicidal waitresses in Baltimore, wearing pant suits to gym class, forcing friends to reenact entire skits of Kids in the Hall, gawking at a picture of a shirtless Elton John.

Graduation seemed light years away, let alone a ten year reunion!

But now it's here.

And I don't give a flying rat on a flying fork about it.

How can this be???

Aren't I supposed to be super stoked about heading back home to brag and feel disproportionately superior to my former classmates for no other reason than I simply "got out"? Aren't I supposed to be planning in my head what rocking outfit I'll wear to the reunion to show off the muffin top I never sprouted? Aren't I supposed to already be designing business cards to pass out like candy with Patrick Bateman-esque fervor just to prove to them all that I went somewhere? Aren't I supposed to be coming up with a story about how I left town at 17 to join the military, found out I was excellent at killing people, became a hitman, began analyzing what made me tick, and came back to my ten year high school reunion to find meaning to my life while dancing to Pete Townsend with the curly-haired girlfriend I left behind?

I'm not thinking any of those thoughts.

The dreams I entertained senior year about marching back into my hometown in a sequin gown, spewing stories about where I've been and what I've seen while a trail of star-struck peers trail behind carrying my train simply have disappeared.

Looking at the Facebook invite for our class reunion suggested that I'm not the only one who feels that way. In fact, more people have declined the invite than accepted. Even people who still live in our town of 18,740 are bailing.

The person responsible for organizing our reunion politely stepped down from his duties in anticipation of the birth of his first child this year. So far there haven't been any takers in filling his position. I looked at the list of people attending the reunion and realized I barely knew any of them. Anyone I'd most be interested in seeing are listed as "Maybes" or "F Thats".

This got me thinking...what happened to the high school reunion?
What happened to the romance of Peggy Sue, Martin Q. Blank, and Romy & Michelle?

Facebook is what happened. Now no one has to eagerly wait 5 or 10 years to find out who married who, who knocked up who, who took over managing the local KFC, and who went on to became the UN Ambassador of Bali.

Now we're all connected...more so than we could ever want.

We peruse wedding albums to see who got the fattest and baldest. We are inundated with photos of the same baby on the say day in the same outfit at 140 different angles. We learn people's works histories, relationship histories, thoughts, wishes, and dreams. We even learn about death. Facebook has completely taken the anticipation out of high school reunions. Throw in high gas prices, high airline prices, and high unemployment and you really nail the coffin shut.

I remember my mother always telling me that the ten year high school reunion was most exciting. That people were still young and trying to impress one another and excited about life. Now no one can be bothered- including myself.

Is the high school reunion quickly dying? I think so.
Soon enough Facebook will be offering a way for us to have virtual reunions.

(title suggested by @Supertsai ...because he came up with a better blog post title than I did)

Do you still dream about your high school reunions?


At 9:09 AM, Blogger The Cookie Lady said...

I was just saying this exact thing a few days ago. My boss told me she was going to her 40th high school reunion in a couple of months and I said I had never been to mine, because I see everyone I'm interested in catching up with on Facebook. What would we have to talk about if we were all in a room together?

At 10:50 AM, Blogger GraphXGrrl said...

My ten year reunion is next week! And yes, I have all those people on Facebook.

The only reasons I'm going are b/c I still live in the same city & I would feel bad for the girl who took the time to organize it only to have nobody show up.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger TolerateThis said...

I was also having this exact conversation with my husband the other day. Completely agree with you- the people I still want in my life are still there, and the people I'm merely curious about can be facestalked! Plus I'm from a town of 8,000 so every Saturday night out (in the one and only club)is basically a school reunion. I'm glad I moved away!

At 12:27 PM, Blogger supertsai said...

Thanks for the shoutout on the title. I definitely think you have a point - we are much more connected now and most people have kept in touch with who they want to through FB already.

I only went to my 10 year because I was already in town for the holidays.

That said, some things are better in person so I don't see reunions totally dying out very soon. And of course some people go for the entertainment value of seeing that one guy get sloppy at the reunion.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Colleen said...

You are so right. My HS reunion is also this year and I don't plan on going. First of all, most of the kids from my class are doing the same thing they were doing ten years ago: working at Carraba's and living with their parents. Secondly, FB has killed a lot of things: reunions, alumni directories, any reason to ever go home...

By the way, have I ever told you what an amazing writer you are? You are so funny, I love all your obscure pop-culture references. If you did go to the reunion, I bet you'd really impress your former classmates.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Hipstercrite said...

@Cookie Lady- My mom just had her 40th. I used to love going to my mom's reunions. This was all pre-Facebook with a generation who had to meet up physically. I wonder since they're all on FB now if they even care to go!

@GraphXGrrl- That's sweet of you!

@Tolerate This- Sounds like my hometown!

@Supertsai- Thanks for the blog title! You're right. I don't think every class feels this way. Some graduating classes are super close and love to meet up with each other. Not sure my class was.

@Colleen- You're so sweet! Thank you!!

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Big Mark 243 said...

The memories of high school is why I wanted to leave . I can honestly say I was never fascinated by any of my tormentors and the odd thing about my ambivalance about high school to me was the two girls I lusted about most, I ran into just through living. And when I met them, I banged them.

That was good enough for a lifetime of catching up with them and Depeche Mode. Whether the internet is killing reunions or not... I could give a rat's patootie... there is a reason some people are left in the past and just as my high schoo (and life) is filled with people I would never want to see again, I am certain that I am on 'do not call list' as well.

What I am interested in is meeting new people who I know only through the internet. They intrigue me and that is more than enough reason to want to see them. High school..? Man, that is so, well, HIGH SCHOOL...

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

It's been 10 years for me too. I honestly never cared about going. I didn't like most of my classmates and the ones I was friends with are all Facebook now so we keep in touch through there!

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Jamie Pilgrim said...

With my 5 year reunion coming up soon I was thinking exactly the same thing. There is sooooooo much I know about the people I went to high school with just because I see them post their statues about it, or find out while chatting to someone while they're creeping. I haven't talked to these people in any sort of way, but yet I know the names of their kids, the guy who knocked them up and when they all meet-up for their baby play dates. I know all this while living on the other side of the world. Insanity.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger YoungUrbanAmateur said...

Oh wow. That sounds about right. I think it is just Facebook. The weirdest part about that is that is what it says about reunions of the past... that maybe people would go to them more out of factual curiosity than out of a desire to actually see people?

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Vince said...

maybe everyone is faking it online and they don't want people to see what the really look/act/etc. like.

I may be the only person who is skinnier and taller in person than on Facebook...just sayin'

At 6:39 PM, Blogger tennysoneehemingway said...

I didn't go to my fifteen year reunion either - yes, we had a fifteen year reunion because we were different. And not different in a good way. And that was before Facebook was even invented. I think reunions have been a thing of the past for ages. But it's true, Facebook has made them virtually redundant.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger kwertz12 said...

My 10th was last August. I talked to maybe 5 people...the only ones I cared to seek out. Everyone just kind of settled back into their own little cliques that they were a part of in hs. And the 5 people I talked to? They are on my fb for sure. So really, I didn't have to drive 40 miles.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger One Blonde Girl said...

I didn't want to go to my reunion, especially when I realized that the 2 or 3 people that I would have been interested in seeing wouldn't be there. But, my twin was one of the organizers and guilted me into attending. It was just as painful as I expected it would be. Not only was I the only childless one there, I was also the only one who had any sort of inkling of an interesting life, which made conversation pretty difficult. They wanted to talk about potty training and I wanted to talk about the concert I had just been to. Sometimes, even if you can, you shouldn't go home again.

At 1:27 AM, Blogger V said...

Hey there! You have an awesome blog here :D

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Brooke Farmer said...

It's hard for me to say. I always knew I wasn't going to go to my ten year reunion. I went to school with a bunch of rich spoiled brats, the vast majority of whom I couldn't stand. I graduated a year early in order to get the hell out of there and never had any romanticized idea about going back in ten years. I was happy enough to have "gotten out." I didn't care to prove it.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger said...

I think it's funny that right as read "shirtless Elton John," an Elton John song started blaring from my iTunes.

I have absolutely NO desire to EVER step foot in the same room as my old classmates again. Facebook does wonders.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Hungry Vegan Traveler said...

I don't plan on attending my 10-year reunion, which would be next year. I'm still in touch with the people I care about, and thanks to Facebook, I end up knowing about everyone else, whether I like it or not. Not interested, don't care, carry on.

At 7:28 AM, Anonymous Amanda B. said...

I've been wondering about this for a while - glad I'm not the only one. My 10 yr graduation anniversary is coming in.. 2013 and I highly doubt I would go, if there's even one happening. I've discovered it's super awkward to talk to people about things that have happened to you and the other can say "oh yeah, I saw you did that on facebook." Conversation ends.

A couple weeks ago I was visiting the city I attended high school in and ran into a few girls (who I didn't much like back in HS) in the washroom of a pub. While very drunk, I think I mumbled that I no longer live in that city, and what I'm now doing. And I was told by one girl she "knew I would do something with my life." She may or may not have been drunk too, I couldn't tell.
Then I smugly left the bathroom cause I knew she got knocked up at 19... she used to be on my facebook.. but deleted her years ago because I no longer cared. Awkward.

I would hate a whole evening like that.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger LaQueshia said...

Well it sucks to be the perky Class Pres. planning the 10 yr reunion :o) Give the old class body officers a break, and at least attend the 'Drinks and Greet' (from one blogger to another) :o) '01 forever....

At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i only hope my highschool reunion goes nearly as well as groose point blanks

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay I graduated in 1999. We didn't have a five year nor a ten year. But we want one. We want to get together and talk and catchup. We have started a facebook page that already includes half of us. We are finding out that some have passed away and planning to remeber them. Why you may ask Facebook is not enough.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger ed said...

I have enjoyed reading this, and the responses. I have my 40th coming up in a couple of years, so reunions and social media have been on my mind…a lot!
Perhaps it is only with maturity, or the passing of time, that magnanimity can even afford to make an appearance. I think it is the Narcissist in us that drives the desire to attend reunions, but for reasons you might not think. W.H. Auden once observed: "Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading." I refer to this because we are our memories. Good or bad, they are ours alone. They define who we are. We are enthralled by them. We are shaped by them. The bully, the bitch and the benevolent classmates and mentors alike all conspired unwittingly to help form who we are. At the time it might have seemed more like “wax on, wax off” meaninglessness, but deep down we know better. Life is short. Go. Make peace. Make love. Acknowledge the role mere teenagers had in helping define who you are.


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