This past weekend was my 20 year high school class reunion. I was impressed with the organizing committee for planning not just one formal reunion event, but three additional events to make it more of a reunion weekend. Friday night there was a meeting location for dinner followed by a time a sports grill and bar. Saturday there was a family picnic at a local park and then the main reunion event later in the evening. This style and format gave class members several opportunities to meet and provided a couple of different options for those that might not be able to make one event or another.
As I drove home from the Friday night events, I couldn’t help but think how technology has already changed what class reunions are and will certainly influence what they become in the future. For most, gone are the days when you could graduate and then literally not see your friends again until a reunion event. Facebook, email, twitter and the like have become part of our lives. It’s easy to keep up with people wherever they may move. For my class this is a recent trend, but it’s already having impact on the friendships made long ago. Within the past year I made contact with most of those in my core circle of friends during high school on Facebook. So I could already see where they lived, their kids, and other things about their life.
While this made our time this weekend a little different than it would have been if I had not known this, it did not take away from the one thing the technology can’t give. That’s the ability to sit with someone face-to-face to see body language, facial reactions, and to hear their voice again. The technology we have today for keeping in touch is great. I am a supporting user of it. But it’s good for the soul to be able to remember old stories (some remembered and some forgotten) about people, groups, and events. It provides a connection in ways that the technology can’t give us.
Then I wonder what will it mean for kids graduating from high school today. What does a 20 year reunion look like for today’s graduating class that may be hooked into their classmates from day one? The technology will definitely aid in keeping a more cohesive class database of where people are and how to get in touch with them. The percentage of classmates that are ‘lost’ should decrease. One of my friends suggested this weekend that many reunions might be cancelled since people are keeping up with each other through technology. To me though, the class reunion is a tradition worth keeping. I think most people will understand that and organizers for the classes will continue to plan events. Use the technology for improvements in organization and for keeping communications open. Use an event, whether formal or informal to get that in-person experience. How else can you retell the stories of all the things you did in your youth and say “what was I thinking?”.
Oh I almost forgot. The county education department had the building that was my old high school demolished a few years ago. Someone took a picture of the event and posted an article on WikiPedia.