OK, so last week I got an email from a friend (and 2nd cousin) inviting me to sign up with Facebook and join the “Bluefield Class of 1986” group he’d created. We were in school together at Englewood from Grades 1-9, and then Bluefield for high school. The class of ‘86 was a very spirited bunch, and I have some great memories of many of those classmates. We had our 20-year reunion last summer – what a trip! Some people I hadn’t seen since the 10-year reunion; some, not since graduation day; some I run into all the time. Some had changed very little, some were almost unrecognisable – but everyone was excited to see everyone else. We all agreed that it would be really nice to stay in touch, especially those of us who were together since Grade One at Englewood. Twelve years – we did all of our growing up together – that makes for a bond with some strength behind it! It’s only natural we should want to maintain ties. But of course, it’s always easier said than done.
When I first came across Classmates.com, I thought it might be the answer, but it didn’t take long to figure out that it is pretty much useless, unless you pay for their premium service. While it’s standard fare for a website to offer both free and paid services, I believe that the free service should at least be functional. Classmates.com is not. You can write your profile, but friends can’t read it. Friends can leave you a message, but you can’t read it. Useless. And really, how many people are actually going to pay for the upgrade? A quick browse through the list of classmates reveals that next to none have. Classmates.com, move over – Facebook has achieved what you have failed to do. And finding old classmates is just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve always thought it would be nice to keep in touch with every friend I’ve ever had – but of course, that’s just not possible. Everyone moves on – starts a family, gets a new job – and every phase brings with it a new set of friends. As we move from one thing to another, we have to come to terms with the fact that friends will come and go. That’s life. We enjoy the memories, and look forward to the reunions or chance encounters that temporarily bring us back together. After this week though, I think Facebook has the potential to shatter that notion. I now really believe it could be possible to stay in touch with everyone.
Facebook has it all: profiles, photos, blogs, email, discussion groups, fun features (check out the Friend Game for example), all with a user-friendly interface. You can participate in whatever capacity you choose, from social director to voyeur. Beware though – it’s TOTALLY ADDICTIVE!!! I’ve really been racking up the hours online this week – it’s INSANE! Hopefully once the novelty wears off, I can streamline things a bit – just check for updates a couple of times a day, and leave it at that – maybe reconnect with my children… 😉 Until then, see you on Facebook!