I believe in Facebook. I didn’t used to believe in it; in fact, I considered it a tool for kids under 30 to waste time on. Most pictures I saw had kids sticking their tongues out at the camera, goofing around, and otherwise demonstrating conclusively that the current teen generation is as bubbleheaded as I thought.
I went to a special NYC high school, in the days when there were still single sex high schools. Ours was all girls, ran for 6 years, and you had to take a test to get in, making us more intellectual and snobby than our regular high school counterparts. We spent six years together, from 1964 to 1970, one of the most turbulent times in our country’s history. We had our share of nerds, brainy types, goody goodies, and lots and lots of hippies who were smoking pot in the bathroom in the 10th grade (even though I didn’t find that out until 20 years later). Only 180 girls made for a small group, and you at least knew who everybody was.
After our 20th reunion, our high school class kept in touch through a Yahoo mail group. We used email to send updates on reunions, which weren’t held but every five years or so, and to occasionally pass along news about the death of a teacher, someone’s marriage, or other headline information. But it wasn’t interactive, and it didn’t meet our need to still be a real time community.
Because we spent six years together, and there were so many powerful political and cultural issues in our time, we are bonded forever by the musical Hair, marches in the streets about Vietnam, and the sexual revolution. We went from being 12 year olds with pigtails to hippies dress with long hair, bell bottom jeans, miniskirts, too much eye makeup, and of course endless talk about sex, while surrounded by rock music that is ‘classic’ now, but meant everything then.
When we migrated our communications to Facebook, we came to life again as a community. Hundreds of old pictures got put up, everyone shared in identifying who was in them, reconnecting with the people in them and the events they memorialized, and sharing common threads in our current lives. Two had sons serving in Iraq; we worried together about their safe return. Our old principal died, and we shared comments and memories about his astonishing personal story. A lengthy thread began about ‘Home Economics’, a 7th grade requirement.
Several of us have lost jobs. One of us lost a teen age son due to an accident, and the outpouring was communal. In fact, we reconvened as a community, after 20 years of silence and 19 years of trying.
When several of us got together to attend the memorial service for the lost son, there was a lunch first. Because of Facebook, meeting in person became a continuation of a conversation that was already underway. Instead of reunion speed dating style, we were able to pick up our ongoing conversation in person and continue it. I believe in Facebook because this inanimate technology tool has given us the means to be together, and be there for each other, on a day to day basis. We are really friends again.