Wednesday, June 16, 2010

THE FACEBOOK DILEMMA

I have been on Facebook for several years now, and I really enjoy it. I like seeing regular picture updates of my nieces in Alaska, and keeping up with far away friends that I normally would talk to maybe once or twice a year. I feel much more connected to everyone. And I've been reconnected to so many people that I had lost track of.

That being said, recently I've had friend requests from people from my high school days. I've been out of high school for more than 35 years, so this is a little weird for me.

Now for some people the high school years are wonderful. Filled with great memories. For others, those years are the dark abyss. The time you prayed would pass as quickly as possible. End the misery. I fall into the latter category. Not everything was bad, but overall, it was the worst time of my life. A time I would never want to re-live.

So, recently, a two people from high school connected with me on Facebook, and I was happy to re-connect. Then someone else found me through one of the friends, and while I didn't really remember her, I recognized the name, and it didn't really evoke any nightmare memories, so I accepted the friend request. It helped that she was also a FarmVille player, and all of you who have that particular addiction, you know we always want new farming neighbors, right?

Well, it seems something of an mini-landslide of high school friend requests have started. (Near as I can tell, one of the "friends" is chairing the upcoming reunion.) I've managed to avoid these people for over 35 years, but now here they are, wanting to be my friend, when most of them didn't give a damn about me in high school. Some of them are fairly benign - I know who they are, though we were never really "friends". Others are people who made my high school life miserable.

I wonder if they know they made my life miserable? I wonder if they've changed?

On the subject of change I have two theories. The first is that we are essentially who we are and the essence of us does not change. The second is that we change as we grow and the people we were in high school are not necessarily the people we are now.

I know those theories are contradictory, but really, is anything in life cut and dry? I guess what I mean is that I think that people can change, but that most don't change.

On the subject of avoidance - I did not intentionally set out to avoid everyone from high school, I just got out of the neighborhood as quickly as possible. I moved to far away places, I traveled, I lost touch in the era of long distance phone bills and snail mail. But to be truthful, I did not miss many people - I was finally out of the misery inducing environment and doing what I wanted to do.

So here is the Facebook dilemma: To "friend" or not to "friend"?

I have been struggling with this for a few months, and I am now accepting "friends" from high school. For the time being I figure, why not, and I can always block them! But seriously, it is really strange. I am so disconnected from that part of my life - 4 years in 52 - less than 8% of my life and the percentage is getting smaller everyday. For some of these people, I guess the high school years may seem closer as some of them still live in the same town, or fairly close by. But for me, I cringe when I am in the old neighborhood, and living thousands of miles away, I don't get there often.

This coming October I will be in Laguna Beach, less than ten miles from my high school. I will be busy with my niece's wedding, and I really doubt that we will be anywhere near the old homestead, but thinking about it gives me the heebie-jeebies just a bit. The reunion is in November, but I will not be attending, I don't need to fly down two months in a row. Besides, it's on Thanksgiving weekend, and Thanksgiving is the only holiday I consider sacred. I will be in Seattle celebrating with friends I met later in life, but friends I will cherish until the end of my days.

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