Monday, June 06, 2011

Is Facebook Making Class Reunions Obsolete?

When the VCR first hit the market, movie theater revenues were in a slump. Given the industry's tough times, the idea that people could now skip the cinema altogether and watch films cheaper in the comfort of their own homes led many to predict the collapse of the multiplex era. But, in fact, the opposite happened. The convenience of the VCR reminded people what they loved so much about movies and suddenly ticket sales climbed dramatically.

It is against this backdrop that I watched the class reunions on campus at Gettysburg College last week. The fun of a reunion is to see the folks you really liked, but fell out of contact with. Is he bald yet? I wonder what she's been doing for the last couple years? Do they have one child or two?

But with e-mail lists and especially Facebook, we are less and less losing contact with those folks. People I would never contact on even an annual basis, I now get frequent updates about. I know when their kids have thrown up, when they went to the gym, even when they divorced that really cool person whom I frankly liked better than them. In a sense, Facebook and other online tools and play toys serve the purpose of the class reunion.

Does that mean that there is less reason to go to the reunion, making it an obsolete institution or, like the VCR case, do you feel so much more connected to those in your past that it makes it more likely that you'd want to spend face time instead of just Facebook time with them?