Deb Eleanor on Friendships, Lost and Found

Eleanor BrownOkay, so you know how cool it is on Facebook when you run into someone you haven’t heard from in ages? Like ages ages, like you went to 2nd grade with them and you always remembered them because of some particular incident, like maybe it was the boy you had a big crush on until he PUNCHED YOU IN THE STOMACH because you got OUT in a stupid KICKBALL GAME. Can you believe that? Not that I’m speaking from experience. Or about anyone in particular (Pete Calhoun).

Initially when that happens, there’s a rush of reconnection, and then they just become one more person posting on your Facebook wall, and then periodically they stop being part of the landscape and you think, ‘Wow, I remember playing crab soccer with that kid and now he’s an attorney with four children and a receding hairline.’ And then you realize you’re getting old and you have to eat a lot of ice cream in order to numb the pain.

Or maybe that’s just me with the ice cream. But you’re with me on the rest of it, right?

Last week I wrote about how I wasn’t good at collecting things. Now that I think about it, there is one thing I’m good at collecting – friends. I’ve got ’em all over, and I’m fairly good at keeping in touch with them (though I am much better at keeping in touch with the ones who are far away, oddly enough). And I absolutely love what Facebook has wrought in that sense – allowed me to connect with people who represent different periods in my life, who remember things I do not, who make me laugh when I realize that we have all grown into these wonderful, creative, caring people with lives and loves and passions and careers and families when ten years ago we were trying to figure out how to pay our bills and twenty years ago we were trying to figure out how to get a prom date and thirty years ago we were trying to figure out how to hold a pencil. And I don’t think I’d have that shock and pleasure if we hadn’t drifted apart in the first place.

But here’s what bothers me about this. The generations who are growing up with social networking – and maybe some of you are reading this – are they ever going to have that? Are they ever going to be able to lose touch with someone just to have the pleasure of getting to know them again?

If you have answers to that question, or if you have a story to share about reconnecting with an old friend, please leave a comment below!

12 Replies to “Deb Eleanor on Friendships, Lost and Found”

  1. I only recently joined Facebook, and I have to admit I did so very reluctantly. After all, I reasoned, I’m already in touch with all the old high school pals I have any desire to connect with, so what’s the point? But in the weeks since I joined, I’ve had a hundred little rushes of memory, those moments of “ohmygod, I totally forgot about THAT GUY!” It’s been fun, and now I’m grudgingly glad I joined.


    1. I love that feeling. I have reconnected with some people who really matter, but most of the pleasure has been from those peripheral people who jiggle some long-forgotten memories and I absolutely adore that. Major bonus points for embarrassing photos from long ago, too.

      As long as you don’t start playing Farmville, I think you can maintain your street cred.

  2. I can’t imagine what it will be like for the generation growing up with Facebook. My humiliating high school moments (and there were plenty) were not documented on the internet (complete with compromising photos) for all eternity.

    1. Ha – all my humiliating high school moments seem to get scanned in by some well-meaning friend.

      I don’t know how long all eternity will be for this generation – if they’re not printing out or studiously archiving their pictures and status updates, their records are going to be alarmingly temporal. Especially given their tendency to follow the technological trends – where is Facebook going to be when it comes time to create the slideshows for their geezerly high school reunions?

  3. I found the boy with whom I drank vodka on a class trip in elementary school on FB. We had a bit of a laugh, he denied any knowledge of our exploits, and I’m certain we each shook our heads at our youthful transgression. I don’t expect to ever contact or speak with him again, but it was fun to connect for a moment. (I wrote about that 6th grade class trip in my book. We smoked cigars too…)

    1. You are SCANDALOUS! I cannot wait to read this book! I think the worst we did on overnight field trips in elementary school was jump on the beds. Now, high school, that’s a different story…

    1. Larramie – Yup, what Tawna said about gravatars.

      It’s true – there are lots of discussions out there in educational technology about that word “friend” and what it means. I mean, when you have 1,500 friends on Facebook, are they really friends at all?

  4. I’m crazy about FB. My favorite thing is following my 17-year-old stepsister and her friends’ posts. Every moment is documented, and every phrase is an acronym. It took me way too long to figure out “imaho.” To me it looks like “I’m a ho,” and while many of them might have been, I couldn’t imagine why they’d all own up to it so publicly and so often.

    1. Personally, “I’m a ho,” is my mantra, and I repeat it thirty times each morning when I awake to make sure I keep my focus strong for the day. I do love teenagers’ abilities to hyper-document. Heaven help them if that generation ever discovers Twitter.

  5. Since my boys, 1 and 3, already know how to operate a mouse and a computer–I do worry about how this will change their relationships in years to come. But, I must say, I’m jealous of the moms I know whose kids–tweens and teens–email them regularly throughout the day. How cute is that?! I would melt if my boys sent me an email! xo

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