The Death Of The High School Reunion

The Death Of The High School Reunion

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In the Fall of 2017, a major fight erupted amongst my high school class. Accusations of lies and betrayal went flying. There was name calling and hurt feelings. Cliques formed and people took sides.

Typical high school stuff, right?

Maybe. But we graduated from high school in 2002. This fight took place in our class Facebook group and it was all about our 15 year reunion.

Our class didn?t have a 10 year reunion because nobody planned one. Traditionally, this responsibility falls to the senior class president, which seems like a good idea until you realize that an 18 year old kid has no idea where they will be or what other commitments they will have by the time they are 28. As it happened, our class president was living abroad in 2012. He wasn?t around to plan the reunion and nobody else took the initiative to do it. But, oh boy, did they take to Facebook to complain about it.

So, in 2017, one of the members of our class decided to take the reigns on a reunion. He planned an event at a country club with a DJ and an open bar and posted the link to purchase tickets in our group Facebook page.

A month or two before the reunion was scheduled to take place, he posted an angry rant in the group letting us know that the event was cancelled because only 27 tickets had been purchased by the approximately 300 members of our class.

People had all kinds of reasons for why they weren?t attending. The event was too expensive. It wasn?t a good time of year. They didn?t have babysitters. They couldn?t take the time off of work to travel home to New Jersey.

They were all valid excuses but I think it actually came down to something far more simple.

High school reunions are a dying tradition, made obsolete by the overwhelming presence of social media in our daily lives.

As one of my classmates pointed out during The Battle of the Class of 2002, most of us know what everyone in our class eats for breakfast every day because we?re all friends on Facebook.

And, sure, seeing someone online every day isn?t the same as seeing them face to face. But most of us barely have time to see the high school friends we?re actually still in touch with. And be honest. Last time you saw someone from high school out in the real world, did you run over to hear what they?ve been up to for the past 15 years? Or did you quickly try to scoot down the next grocery store aisle before they saw you?

In a world where we are all so quick to overshare every detail of our lives on our news feeds, there is no reason to get together with people you haven?t heard from in over a decade just to hear them tell you about things that you watched play out in real time on your iPhone screen. At best, it?s boring and, at worst, it?s incredibly awkward because you?ve been silently observing their lives for years, never even stopping to comment on the picture of that really fancy cocktail they had at happy hour last week.

And although we may not think about this when we are deciding to opt out of our reunions, the truth is that showing up in person means showing more than our highlight reel. It?s all well and good to show off your new car and your trip to Bermuda to the snotty girl who bullied you all during freshman gym. But, in person, she might be able to see that you?ve gained 20 pounds since your daughter was born or that you aren?t as happy in your marriage as your daily declarations of love might have everyone believe. Who wants to reveal all of that?

So, for those of us who came of age in the 90?s and 2000?s, high school reunions, as they have traditionally existed, are not only unnecessary. They are downright unappealing.

With all of that said, I recently received a message from a high school friend who graduated a year ahead of me and with whom I spent three wonderful years in the choir program. Our beloved choir director passed away suddenly in 2012 and my friend was writing to propose a reunion of folks who went through his program, regardless of what year they graduated. He hopes that we can all come together to reminisce, reconnect and make music together, just like we did in the old days.

The response to his proposal has been overwhelming. People are volunteering their work spaces to host the event. They are making plans to travel home so that they can participate. And, in fact, my senior class president, who could not be tracked down when it was time to plan our 10 year reunion, resurfaced online to tell us that he is arranging travel home from The UK, where he now lives, in order to be there.

So perhaps our desire to reconnect with our glory days hasn?t faded completely. We just need a true purpose for coming together with folks who share our dearest memories, even if they didn?t happen to be a part of our graduating class.

I may know what my choir friends eat for breakfast every morning. But it feels like a lifetime since I?ve heard our voices together in harmony.

And as for the Class of 2002?s 20th Reunion, I?ll be sitting at my laptop with a bowl of popcorn, waiting to watch the drama unfold. But I will not participate ? in the bickering, or the reunion.


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