Friday, February 05, 2010

blast from the past


social media. i'm not sure what i think. recently, my sister was lamenting her facebook, because a lot of random people that she knew had all met one another, via comments on her status updates, and were now planning a reunion next summer. i pointed out that it wasn't really a reunion since they'd never met in real life, but that's beside the point. the point being that social media is a bit worrying.

me, i've been on facebook for several years, but only recently opened myself up to being friends with people from this bloggy world. otherwise, my friends were mostly work colleagues and friends here in denmark, plus a few family members. i had intentionally hidden myself from searches and didn't want to be found by the old gang from school or even college. i'm friends with a couple of people from college, but they're people i'd kept in touch with anyway over the years. but this week, via my sister, an old classmate from high school (and grade school for that matter) found me and "friended" me. and i felt like it would be too mean to ignore it or turn it down. so i accepted. and then two more old classmates friended me right after. and i'll admit that i also sent a friend request to one, based on seeing her name on the first classmate's wall.

i admitted to the first classmate that i had intentionally hidden myself and we exchanged some chat about reunions and such. i haven't attended any (and this year is 25 years! how did we get so old?) and neither had she. i hadn't given much thought as to why i didn't want to reconnect with all those people, but i knew it had to do with one of them calling me "miss king bitch shit" to my face on the day of our senior tea. i think i'm still a little bit bitter about that, because it came so much from left field. you can accept such a thing if you can see it coming, but in all honesty, i didn't. to this day, i don't know what i did to deserve that, tho' i have had moments in the years since of trying to live up to that grand appellation.

what's interesting and nothing whatsoever to do with the woman who reconnected with me, is how i feel about this whole thing. i've been totally transported to that time--the awkwardness, the adolescent insecurities, cringing thoughts of an awful mullet and the truly vile mint green and lilac argyle sweater vest i wore in my senior pictures. you become in some sense that embarrassing person that you were then, with all your hickishness. and it's really quite painful and awkward all over again. and i guess i knew on some level it would be that way and that's why i wanted to stay hidden and why i didn't go to any of those reunions.

i've come a long way since then, but the fact that i can be pushed right back there with the press of the "send" button is worrying to say the least. i think i never went to the reunions because i didn't want to feel like an alien landing from another planet. the judgments of how i dress and speak now and what i do with my life (or don't do), my politics, my education, everything. subject to judgement once again, just like in that small town, with all the scrutiny. and don't even get me started on the religiousness. and the right wing politics.

nope, please keep me hidden, oh gods of social media, so i can continue to be who i am now and not who i was...miss king bitch shit or not....

32 comments:

baileythebookworm said...

People are unforgivably mean throughout high school -I just graduated about 2 years ago, and I am slowly deleting most of the people I knew throughout my high school years from my facebook account. I didn't like them then, and I don't talk to them now; I use social networking to connect with other writers and people who share my interests, which is what it should be for (imho). I am all for keeping up with friends, but it doesn't seem like these people ever had friendship on their agenda with you. I don't blame you for keeping yourself hidden from people.

mel said...

Kids can be so mean. And/or just weak. And damn, especially girls sometimes!! Sometimes I wonder how anyone makes it out of adolescence intact. There isn't enough money or food in the world to entice me to attend a reunion and I resisted Facebook altogether until last summer. I finally caved in a weak moment under a combo of Tad's pushing and a friend's. And I was determined not to be swept back, not to get caught up, and not to friend anyone I didn't care to. Within an hour of signing up I had friend requests from handfuls of high school folks and wanted to vomit... I don't know what it is about those times that has such a hold on me. Recently I was found by a college acquaintance... And felt the bile rising all over again. I'm rarely active or check status updates. But I have reconnected with a couple of people that I did care about and it was totally worth it in those cases. It was good to know they made it out alive too, and turned into pretty awesome human beings.

I'm also doubtful you ever deserved such a title!

Bill Stankus said...

I went to one high school reunion, the 10 year one. The few people who had been school chums had remained close during those 10 years. For the rest of the people at the reunion, when someone asked me who I was, I said I was just the husband with my wife who attended the school (of course she hadn't but no one seemed to care).

It was a stupid event ... and I dropped the idea of "connecting" with people I barely knew or didn't like in high school. Ditto college.

I rather reconnect with people I've met on life's journey that left cool impressions because of shared dynamics and terrific conversations. Those are the people I miss.

Allegria said...

Went to my tenth reunion (14 years ago last summer. Thanks for asking...), and told myself over and over again how glad I was that I didn't peak in high school. Whoa. Where are the popular ones now, I ask you? Heads hanging low over their cups, dreaming of the glory days.

BUT facebook did put me back in contact with my best friend in grade three, and although we drifted apart in high school, as adults we get along great again. We visit each other whenever we can, our kids are the same age and have good times together, and it has been a lot of fun. That said, I think that's the exception rather than the rule.

Maria-Thérèse afiori.com said...

I know I never want to see any of my former class"mates" from years 0-9 ever again. I never want to have to think about them, see them or hear a word about what they are doing. School was torture to me.

One person tried to add me but I rejected. I only want to be around people I choose - and who choose me - now that I have a choice.

♥ Maria-Thérèse blog.afiori.com

Amy said...

It's an interesting question that I've struggled with myself. For me, I opted to open myself to it - I felt like I needed a chance to somehow complete the circle. To show the people who made me feel crappy in our youth that I was fine. To show them that I wasn't the person they once knew. To see if they were. It might be just as worrisome to have to prove something (as I felt I did) as it is to be transported back to those feelings (which it seems you were). Either way, it's a strange phenomenon.

Char said...

the people i loved back then are still my friends today - all three of them. the other's were merely some distant memory. though i did run into an old school acquaintance at my brother's retirement (he's the chief of police). we chuckled, he said i was a hardhead in school - i think it was because i didn't really involve myself a lot. i floated along with slightly above average grades, dated guys that didn't go to that school and generally stayed out of it all. maybe that's why i didn't feel the need for the reunions.

i'm not the girl i was 20something years ago...i'm not sure anyone ever is really. and hopefully most of us are damn glad.

CatLadyLarew said...

High school.... ack! I'm only a year away from my 40th reunion. The only reunion I went to was my 10th. I moved away from the mid-west 30 years ago and never kept up with anyone, so it's hardly worth the effort to go to another one. (Not to mention the fact that I'm just as much of a hick as I was then... nothing to impress anyone with!)

Anonymous said...

Timely post. When I joined fb, it was with the intention of staying connected with people I meet in workshops I teach all over the U.S. Then a customer from a previous job friended me, leading to friend requests from that whole community. At first it was fun to reconnect. Now I realize I'm "supposed" to play the same role I did in that old job, and I've fallen short (in their opinion).

My grown-up, evolved self says this is stupid. As long as they're the only ones acting like middle schoolers, it's more their problem than mine. It also reminds me that I don't need everyone's approval to be satisfied with myself. But I'd be lying if I said it hadn't given me a sleepless night or three.

SaraReno said...

I have a few friends from "back in the day" that were friends then. But in general if I didn't like them then I won't add them now. It is interesting, though, which random people meet through the discussions. It's much like how we sometimes find new blog friends through the comment sections on each other's blogs. My ex-husband is now married to Eric's ex-wife's high school friend. And they met through a comment he'd left on the ex-wife's page. Odd how that happens sometimes.

Erin Wallace said...

I completely know what you are talking about. I have reconnected with many, many people from high school, and it has taken me a while to adjust to the fact that we are grown up (20 years now), mature individuals and that the popular kids are now moms and dads, the old cliques don't apply. But going to a reunion? Still not sure about that one!

NK said...

Sometimes there are reasons these people are no longer in our lives, but, then again, sometimes you find someone who you have been looking for and good things come from it. Facebook, bringing people together regardless of the consequences.

An Open Heart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
An Open Heart said...

I just had a face to face with someone from high school that I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing.....I had the hugest crush on him back then....I must still have that crush because I said the stupidest things to him standing in the grocery store aisle today....I have ignored the friend requests from the old high school crowd, my facebook is made up of people in my adult life, I have no interest in reconnecting with those people, and I had no problem NOT friending them. In fact, it kind of felt good to ingore their requests.

My neice says people just try to friend people so their friend count is high.....


S

Kelly Enigma said...

You're in Denmark? That's supposed to have the happiest people in the world, I've always wanted to go there! :)

Sarah Lulu said...

I have recently (in the last month) suddenly reconnected with some old school friends via facebook....from ....*drum roll* ...40 years ago! Our first year of high school. I can say it's been quite magical really. About 15 of us have suddenly come out of the woodwork. I feel so totally different from back then ...so much more at ease with who I am. xx

Ju said...

I still don't have Facebook for the simple fact that I don't want to "re conect" with ghosts from the past. If I ever wanted I would have done so years ago. I feel l like in those reunions people are constantly trying to prove themselves. Anyway, saying that I do like Tweeter and that's how I came to "meet" you and other minded people. Isn't life simpler like that?

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting post, I tend to think about this subject a lot, and I have a few theories about how to improve some failures that social networks are evidencing. we can discuss them later.
I think this is a good example of how a new technology ends up taking a life of its own, and becoming something that was not originally intented to be used for, you can never know how new stuff is going to end up being used for or what is going to provoke in the future before it is happening

Lisa-Marie said...

You might think me very harsh, but I have exactly 6 friends from school on my Facebook - 4 are my best freinds, and the other 2 are people I like very much. Others have tried to add me and I decline.

I come from a village that is entirely working class, and 99% white and protestant. the phrase 'small town mentality' springs to mind. I was not one of the 'cool kids' in school - though I got on with most people, and when I said I wanted to go to uni, people said I thought I was better than them. So when those people(most of whom have no jobs and 3 kids to different people, and quite a few who have drug problems now) try to add me, I decline, and I have no qualms about doing so.

Eternally Distracted said...

During the first few months on facebook I happily added all that requested me to... and then I looked at my friends list and realised that half the people I didn't like at school so why would I want to be friends now... esp as I now live thousands of miles away! I have since set up a facebook account just for my blog so I can add whoever I want!!

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

I understand how you feel. My high school years were filled with torture due to being overweight, but it's nice to see people who put me through crap are now in the same shoes.

Those butts would not have one thing to do with me thirty years ago-but when I see them out now--they want to hugh and speak to me. I just back off.

Words are very hard to forget, but I have move on and I am the better person for going through all I have been though.

Facebook is not for me.

Great post

Best
Tracy :)

AscenderRisesAbove said...

I have two fbs. one for the business and one is anon and not open to public. fans on the open one; only people I know well on the closed one.
also from a small town so I understand what you are saying.

trinsch said...

yeah, i don't really get facebook. but then again, i don't really get twitter. and not long ago, i didn't really get blogging.

with fb the thing is, that i cannot seem to figure out with myself what it is to me, but the moment i started blogging, it was pretty clear to me what it was tome, what i wanted to use it for.

fb started out as a way to stay in touch with friends, especially at home, posting photos and sending messages. but as more and more people are added, i find it harder and harder to be personal, so for me i guess it's an advanced address book, a public photo album for those at home and an easy way to stay in contact with the build in chat, the wall and the message system.

kristina - no penny for them said...

i only have a limited number of friends on facebook. mostly i use it to exchange photos with my family. and with some of my friends fb functions a bit like a fridge front in a flat-share, where people leave post-its with random messages. :)

there's been talk about a school reunion this summer. i'm really unsure if i want to go.

Just Jules said...

I am just the opposite. I won't friend people from town but don't think twice if old classmates friend me - I have only friend requested one of them. Because to me - the people in town (which as you know, is not the town I went to school in) those are the ladies who are out for the gossip and who see me on a daily basis. What I say on FB could carry into my everyday life.

The people I went to HS with - I didn't much care for any of them. But, I like them to see me now. That I no longer care what they think of me. Of course I have an amazing group of blog friends that have started making FB fun and helping me be who I am over there.

I too though am hesitant at letting others in because they can not see me now, rather are stuck on who I was then. I wasn't anything yet - I was growing.....

Mark said...

That was very interesting reading. This whole social media thing is...perplexing? Im on FB, not sure why. Don't contribute much at all. If a friend from high school friended me, I don't know, honestly, what I would do. I havent called him, or vise versa in 35 yrs, do I need to connect with him now?
It's interesting, isn't it?

cleobytheseao said...

It's not often that you come across a post that you can identify so strongly with. It's a refreshingly honest view shared by so many people especially when we're led to believe the opposite, that schooldays were terrific and we're eager to relive them. I guess they were but only for those that like to revisit the past with such enthusiasm.

Just had to make this one of my 'Posts of the Week' at http://alittleprecious.wordpress.com

SE'LAH... said...

i don't have FB...
i do hope that you can help build your sister up to withstand all this. sending lots of positive vibes your way.

one love.

One Womans Thoughts said...

Yeah, the high school reunion invitation, it does take you right back to that time. I have gone to two, and that was enough for me. And we all changed in some way, hopefully for the better, so give them the benefit of the doubt.
I believe if we were really interested in these people, or they in us, somehow we would have made an effort to connect before this.
On another note, I do find it entertaining how we all want privacy and then get on facebook or another site and seem to have the need to tell the world what we are doing at any given moment.

Gwen said...

It's so weird that the senior tea chick and I have the same nickname for you .... (seriously, wtf is a miss king bitch shit anyway?).

Many of my facebook friends are the uber Jepesus (Jesus People) I went to high school with, but my tactic is to be as religiously offensive as possible in hopes they'll go away (because I feel too mean not to friend them, but mean enough to offend them? yeah, I'm not a mass of contradictions). It doesn't work. Apparently all the Christian charity is difficult to overcome. Who knew?

Bocat said...

Timely post! It took me a long time to join FB. Didn't understand the need for it and didn't feel the need to regale real time about the fact I was going to the store or having a bad hair day? I finally got into it because several of my friends are very funny and more than once I would find myself laughing at some statement or post and now I check it every day. And then I was friended twice last Fall - one by a high school friend whom I actually lived with my senior year. It was fabulous to reconnect with her. And the other blast from the past was a friend from photography school who I haven't spoken with or seen in 20 years. Both of these positive instances were a wonderful byproduct from this strange thing called Facebook!

Bee said...

There are a couple of different issues here, really -- and you are definitely not the only person who doesn't want to revisit her high school self! I went to my 10th reunion (we happened to be in Texas at the time) and I was surprised by how nice most people were . . . but I would agree that I didn't have much in common with them then, and have even less now.

I've often regretted putting my high school down on Facebook. I have at least 10 friend requests at the moment for people who I cannot remember in any shape or form. What is the point?

Unlike you, I seem to mostly communicate with my blogging friends on Facebook . . . which is kind of funny.