November, 2008 was a good time to join Facebook. I was just finishing a prolonged recovery from what should have been minor surgery and at the same time, my daughter departed for college, leaving me with time on my hands to figure out what social networking was all about. Now anyone under the age of 25 may not be able to comprehend the magnitude of the effect computers and the internet have had on society. After all, you can't miss what you've never had to do without. But I definitely remember the days of coming home from a summer away at camp, heading to the drug store to buy what we quaintly called "stationery"
and then going to the post office to buy books of stamps and self-enclosing air mail envelopes. Phone calls, even local ones, were too expensive (and nothing was worse than waiting for the rotary dial to spin around, registering all those nines and zeros), so we spent the days surrounding Labor Day penning letters to all the people we said goodbye to when those buses pulled out at the end of August. And that not only applied to summer camp, but also to my three summer breaks in between my college years. It was, to put it mildly, another world. And needless to say, the effort to keep in touch grew old very quickly.
So back to Facebook. Once I established myself, the friend requests did come fast and furious. The categories were simple; high school and college friends, camp friends, friends from web-based special interest boards (most of whom I had already met in person) and family and friends. I tried to explain to my kids and especially my son, who still thinks it's an aberration of nature that his mother should have a Facebook page and refuses to acknowledge that fact by ignoring any and all friend requests from said mother, that people my age use Facebook differently than he and his friends do. To them, Facebook is a way to connect in the most present of tenses, while to us, it's been a fantastic way to to "re-connect" to our past.
For instance, this weekend, my college roommates and I are meeting up at a nearby hotel for a weekend together. For those of you who knew me in SUNY-Binghamton, the six "girls" of 8 Arthur Street will be partying together for the first time in 30 years. Pretty amazing, isn't it? I think so. Of course, our overnight bags will now contain reading glasses and medicinal aides as opposed to baggies of unnamed illegal substances and there will be no keg in the bathtub. But that's fine. Just the fact that we get to spend the time together after all these years is amazing.
There are other reunions in the works for me. One involves some travel pretty far away later in the year. And then there are the smaller, less involved get togethers.... lunch or dinner on a Saturday, nights meeting at a show or a bar in the city, that sort of thing.
You know, someone once said to me that there's a reason you lose track of people in your life over the years. They've "served their purpose" and are only relevant to the times in which you all lived, worked or played together. And after that, what's the point of keeping in touch? Those days are gone, and it's time to move forward. Well, I can honestly say that is the biggest crock of bull I've ever heard. We may have lost touch because the technology to keep in touch was not available then. But not a day goes by that I'm not unbelievably thankful that the people who were once so important to me in my life are now back in it. They, and the experiences we shared, wherever and whenever that may have been, are and will always be relevant, because they shaped the person I've become in a lot of ways. So to my son, I say, "Don't friend me, it's okay. I've got that covered."