Barbara Safani 2 Comments

yearbook.JPGMSNBC ran an article today entitled When You Don’t Want to Be Friends on Facebook that I found fascinating. Many commented on the awkwardness of having someone from your junior high or high school days who you haven’t talked to in decades find you and ask to friend you on Facebook. I have an entirely different take on this and here’s why.

  • In January of this year, I started a networking group on Facebook to reconnect with some old friends from high school. Initially, my boomer friends were skeptical and even a little bit nervous about joining, but many did so, perhaps to humor me or maybe just because they were curious or wanted to friend their children to see what they were up to online.
  • What started out as a very modest sized group has grown to the hundreds, thanks to some very tenacious Facebook users and some core friends with a killer email list and super human cybersleuthing capabilities. And while it’s fascinating to see the numbers in the group grow each day, what’s more amazing is the healing power of the group.
  • Let’s face it…high school is not exactly the easiest time in life and the relationships formed there are filled with excitement, passion, disappointment, embarrasment, and defeat. 
  • Yet despite all that, the affinity within the group is quite powerful. The ties you form with your high school peers are tough to match, even if you weren’t voted “best athlete” or “most likely to succeed.”And with those ties comes the power to forgive. Since starting the group, friends have told me about some amazing things that have happened to them online. Two of my friends told me about friendships that blew up in high school or soon after and were never revisited again…until Facebook. Facebook gave them the courage to say “So what was that arguement all about and who cares anymore?” Another friend told me he hardly remembers anyone from high school (he cut many classes)…yet despite what he initially thought, his wall is full of friends, friends of friends, jokes, videos, old photos, etc.
  • So if someone from your past reaches out to you on a social or business networking site, don’t make your decision to accept the invitation based solely on what the relationship was so many years ago…instead, base your decision on what the relationship could be.  

— 2 Comments —

  1. Barbara,

    This is an outstanding piece. (Will you republish on Career Hub?) I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve found Facebook has been an invaluable tool to connect with my high school and college friends. Recently, I used it to organize a dinner with friends at our college reunion–a simple post resulted in a gathering of 25 people.

    When we met, there was a shared sentiment that our connectedness on Facebook had helped us feel simultaneously more “in touch” and less self-conscious about attending the reunion. There wasn’t a lot of fuss on what to wear or awkward conversation with one exception–ironically friends from high school (in another state) were seated at the very NEXT TABLE! So that did necessitate a slight interruption…

    One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from a commencement speech made by Tom Brokaw who made the observation that the “real world” can be just like junior high with all of the adolescent pettiness we hoped we had left behind–and that the trick was to approach your career interests with the enthusiasm but your relationships with the maturity of a “grown-up.”

    Thanks for this very “grown-up” post…I hope to see you again soon.

    Chandlee

  2. Thanks Chandlee,

    Now that both my kids are teenagers, I think about those days of junior high and high school often. Nothing’s changed much on the awkward adolescent front, but hopefully this generation of kids will value staying in touch and also be the ones who come up with even better applications for doing just that.

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