Facebook: Class reunions for digital age

Published 9:24 pm Saturday, December 6, 2008

Some of us — often the male of the species — regress back to our youth and act like children, having to be dragged kicking and screaming into something we don’t think we want to do.

“Here, honey, you have to take your medicine” or “Let’s just go, you’ll end up having a good time.”

“No. No. No … OK, that wasn’t too bad.”

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That was the way it went for me with Facebook.

For those who aren’t Internet savvy, Facebook is an online social networking Web site similar to My Space that allows users to create biographical pages, share photos and video, connect with long-lost friends and just generally be nosy about whatever happened to so-and-so.

Created in 2004 by a Harvard University student, the free Web site has spread like wildfire and now boasts more than 120 million active users.

That may be because it is like electronic nicotine, as addictive as anything you can imagine.

If my wife were the petty sort, I would likely be taunted with endless “told you so’s.”

Fortunately, she isn’t, and so far has been content to quietly revel in her correctness.

For weeks she urged me to take a look at it and create a profile but I always resisted with a litany of defenses.

“No, I’m not interested in that” or “I’m too busy to spend time with that” or “I look at a computer all day long.”

But one day, I forget what it was that broke my spirit, I gave in.

A month or so later, I have amassed 120 friends, talked with people I hadn’t seen in 20 years and just been able to see how a lot of old friends and classmates are doing.

An idea like Facebook is so simple and cuts to the core of who we are as human beings that it is genius.

Most of us are interested in staying in contact with peers — even if only from a distance.

Why else would you see so many class reunion luncheons and meetings printed right here in the newspaper?

The Internet has revolutionized our lives in so many ways that we — and certainly future generations — must be cautious not to take that for granted.

Fifteen years ago, you would have to physically run into old friends or spend money on long distance phone calls to catch up. That may be too much for many people.

Now, there is an entire electronic world out there that allows you to be as engaged or disengaged as you want.

It is kind of like the virtual version of Cheers, everyone knows your name.

I think it is only a matter or time before the older generations start taking advantage of this as well, rather than allowing it to be a tool relegated for only the young.

Maybe the moral of this story is that we all should keep a more open mind before deciding that we like or don’t like something.

Or maybe it is just that I should always listen to my wife.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.