Posted by: rolfsky | October 15, 2007

digital suicide and class reunions

Class reunions may become a thing of the past as it’s increasingly difficult to “lose” touch. Deleting your addressbook will be akin to digital suicide.

A few weeks ago my wife and I attended her highschool reunion in Santa Barbara. The first reunion she’d been to since highschool, this was definitely a time to show off her handsome husband and regale her former classmates with details of her new promotion.

In theory this sounded like a great idea, but in execution it fell flat. There was regaling, but perhaps the most disappointing thing for her was that there was hardly anybody there she wanted to talk with. A few important connections were re-found, but fewer than you might get in an evening really digging on the internet.

Upon returning home, I thought about friends and connections, decided I’d had enough of “multiple social networks” and went with purpose to go delete my MySpace account. Having not logged in for many weeks (and never really gaining much value from it in the first place), I wanted to “pare down” and attempt to consolidate my life online.

Back on MySpace, my finger hovering over the delete button, I lost my nerve. I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. This MySpace account was my only connection with these friends even if I hadn’t talked with them in months.

A year previous, I’d signed up for MySpace for “research purposes only”, but had been delighted as I found and connected with a group of people from my theater days at university. Though I didn’t have much to say to each, it felt like a grand adventure finding and add’ing each friend as though I were mingling at one of our notorius New Year’s parties. It felt good to find them again and know they were well. I also got a chance (through the anonymity of the internet) to clear up some misunderstandings and atone for earlier transgressions.

As our children and our children’s children grow up, they will begin collecting their digital adressbook when in pre-school, swapping URI‘s on the jungle gym in a modern form of BFF ritual. As they progress all those names and “have a nice summers” scrawled in the back of yearbooks (if such a thing still exists) will have lives of their own, instantly accessible and transferred to each new communication device we own.

And how then, will this effect us when it will be virtually impossible to “lose touch”? For good and bad, is there a necessity in losing touch to cut our ties with the past?

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Responses

  1. Hi Rolf, nice post, I recognise the exact feeling you describe! Actually,some highschool friends found me recently using my Facebook profile (which I started for research purposes :-)). I hadn’t seen or talked to them in 20 years. After the initial excitement, I now feel the pressure of trying to keep these renewed friendships alive, while at the same time I know our lives have been disconnected in such a way it is difficult to reconnect again. It is like your best friend from kindergarten who you meet again after going though highschool. What will you say to each other after all these years? When is a “best friend” not really a friend any more?
    I don’t think that it will be very different for our children though. Although it will be difficult to lose touch, in the end, a friendship is still about the interaction between the friends. So, we might not be able to lose touch, we still won’t interact often with the people that sort of disconnected from our lives.

  2. Hi Rolfsky, I agree with much of your post. There is the danger of offending people by not continuing the correspondence or by disagreeing with them. That is mainly because at one time (notably, the times that are in their deeply cherished, sentimental memory) you both ‘agreed’ on everything. Unless you can pick up the baton and run from where you left off (which is usually more than impossible)you run the risk of shattering those valuable, useful, childhood or teenage memories. They become tarnished with the cold awareness that the ‘friend’ doesn’t think much of the person that you in actuality really are. That’s a sad loss, for what? A cheap worthless set of little digital exchanges on a PC? Keep the memories, they are far more positive and worthwhile.


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