Why Facebook is Not a High School Reunion

Sure, the popular take on high school reunions these days is that you don’t need to go to your reunion because anything and everything you would ever want to know about your classmates is on Facebook.  It seems every news outlet enjoys announcing the demise of the high school reunion because of our ability to reconnect online.  We know this because we’ve been contacted many times for our opinion as professional high school reunion planners.  So, I’d like to offer our official stance on the issue here:  Facebook does not replace, make obsolete, or ruin your high school reunion.   And here is why:

1)  Facebook life is not real life.  We’re savvy these days when it comes to our online profile.  We know what we post can be seen by friends, potential employers, and our parents.  We’re calculating about what we share and how we share it, and we know how to quickly untag a particularly unflattering photo.   While what we post may be true, it is often the well-edited version we’re willing to share with 350 of our closest Facebook friends.

2)  You can only experience the real “status” of your classmate in person at your reunion.  Technology gives us many ways to connect to each other, but nothing online is as genuine or engaging as a face to face conversation.  You can’t hear the infectious laugh of the classmate who sat behind you in geometry, see an ex-boyfriend’s smiling blue eyes, or hug your former locker partner on Facebook.  After all, a life update is much better than a status update.

3)  Think everyone is on Facebook?  Think again.  Facebook is the largest social network, but for any reunion, there is only about 1/3 of the class represented.  For a class size of 300 students, that’s a whopping 200 classmates you don’t see on Facebook and who you’ll miss out on reconnecting with if you don’t go to your reunion.

4)  Even with the best of intentions, you really don’t get together with those high school Facebook friends.  Life is busy for everyone these days – ever try to schedule a girls’ night with more than a friend or two?  Between work, family, volunteering and life’s responsibilities, there aren’t many opportunities to get-together with a large part of your past, all at once, all in the same place.  And you certainly can’t do it on Facebook.

5) Facebook is just a preview of what’s to come.  Instead of replacing the high school reunion, Facebook actually makes the entire high school reunion experience better.  Facebook fast-forwards your conversation to what is real and important.  When you already know where a classmate recently moved or the names of his three kids, you are able to skip past initial small talk and jump into a conversation worth having.

Still think you aren’t missing the fun of your high school reunion because of Facebook?  How can you be sure?  If you don’t go, you’ll never know.

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