An old grade school friend sent me this photo the other day. It shows me and a group of 7th classmates from the Blessed Sacrament School in the Bronx on an outing to the United Nations in the mid-’60s. I have zero memory of this trip, even now that I’ve been shown the picture. But there I am (you’ll have to pick me out yourself but here’s a hint — I had a lot more hair), surrounded by classmates whose names I barely recall. It’s truly like looking at a dream.
Photographs and memories are funny because they’re so intertwined. Had I been in possession of this photo for all these years, I likely would have remembered the trip fondly and with a lot more detail. That’s the great thing about Facebook for older folks like myself — it’s a chance to reconnect with old classmates who I’d likely never have seen or heard from again.
And that’s also why Facebook is so fundamentally different for those over 40 years old, let’s say, than it is for those under 25 years old. My kids have almost never been without Facebook. It started when my daughter — now 26 — was in college. She and my son, like everyone else their age, have had Facebook as part of their lives pretty much all their lives. Not so us Baby Boomers and the generation behind us. For us, Facebook is about reconnecting with people who’ve disappeared. In fact, I think I’m in touch — more or less — with everyone in my entire life now through Facebook.
That’s a radical departure from my life between 25 and 55 when I was not in touch with almost anyone from the projects where I grew up, my grammar school, high school or even college. That may be hard for some to believe but everyone moved away from my old neighborhood and I went to a commuter college where friendships were few and far between. The handful of people I did stay in touch with over those years were lifelong friends. Now I’m in touch with EVERYONE. We may not hang together but we do see each other from time to time, and we know what each of us is doing.
It’s a good feeling and I have Facebook to thank. That’s why I bought the stock on the first day it came out. THAT seems like a poor decision right now but Facebook has paid me back many times over before its IPO took a nosedive.