Friday, July 10, 2009

Facebook Flurries and Follies

How many times have you said, "If I could go back to high school and redo everything, knowing what I know now, I would have such a different experience." I used to think that too.

I've noticed that my Facebook use comes and goes in cycles. Periodically, I scroll through the listings from my high school and college class groups, and then, I forget to do it for a few weeks. I get a flurry of Friend requests, which reminds me of all the other people I meant to look up.

So far, I don't feel inadequate when I notice that other people have hundreds, if not thousands, of friends, and I don't. But I have noticed another interesting phenomena: I sometimes hesitate to be the one who sends the Friend Request to a friend with whom I've lost touch. I say to myself, "Well, maybe they lost touch with me for a reason. Maybe they decided they no longer wanted to be friends with me. Maybe I was mean to them, and I just don't remember. If I reach out, maybe they'll tell me exactly what they think of me." Thankfully, so far that hasn't been true. I tell myself not to be ridiculous, and after a few days, I send the Friend Request, and so far, no one has sent me an ugly message.

I've spent years thinking that if I could go back and redo high school and undergraduate school that I'd be more outgoing; if I found someone interesting, I wouldn't hesitate to make the first move towards being friends. I've told myself that if I could go back with all my years of knowledge, that maybe I'd ask people out on dates, instead of waiting patiently.

Ha! It takes me a phenomenal amount of courage to reach out to people who used to be my friends. These would be people who I should assume would be interesting in being friends with me; what is the big deal? What is wrong with me? I have yet to reach out to people who I only knew tangentially during those years. And I might not. I have a small set of Facebook Friends, and sometimes, I find it hard to keep up with all those status updates.

I finally broke down and dug out my high school yearbooks. I just can't figure out who most of my classmates are, based on their Facebook photos. It's fascinating to me how people have changed. More fascinating: how many people I just don't remember. Was that person a jock or a nerd or a drama geek? I just don't remember anymore. Based on old yearbook pictures, I no longer remember who we all considered particularly gorgeous. In my high school yearbook, class of 1983, most of us look more or less the same to me. I remember that there was quite the hierarchy--I just don't remember where anyone fit into that hierarchy. Now, 25 years later, those pictures just look quaint and dated--they inspire a weird nostalgia, not dread and hurt feelings. Am I finally a grown up? Or are these the early symptoms of memory disorder?

I'm supposing that all these emotions have been around for all of human history, and that only the trigger--all this new technology--is new. But I wonder if that's true. Are we more or less well adjusted, now that it's easier to find each other?

And I wonder if there's a poem anywhere in all of this. Lots of possible symbols: the yearbook picture, the Facebook picture, the Friend Message, the yearbook message, the people who want to be found, the people who lurk, the online reunions, the old-fashioned kind of reunion. Hmmm. I'll let these ideas percolate a bit--see what you come up with!

1 comment:

Shefali Shah Choksi said...

so did you? come up with a poem, i mean. or was it a set of poems? classified according to the major psychoses of high school years, you know?