I’ve written before about how social media has helped me reconnect with relatives and friends. Well, I’ve had two new experiences in the last couple of weeks where social media again has warmed my heart in this way.
A second cousin found me on Facebook recently. I’ve met her and her branch of the family a couple of times, but I don’t know her well. In fact, what we most have in common (other than two great-grandparents whom I never knew) is that we have each lost both our parents in close proximity. Mine died six months apart—my mother in July 2014 and my father in January 2015. My cousin and her siblings lost both their parents this year.
I learned about her mother’s death via a post from another family member on Facebook. When I saw that post, I looked for my second cousin’s mailing address on the Internet (armed only with her full name and the city where she lived) and sent her a condolence card. A few months ago, I’d sent her mother a card when her father died earlier this year, but later I learned her mother had Alzheimer’s, so this cousin may never have seen the card I sent her mother.
But after I sent the card, this second cousin searched Facebook, found me, and sent me a message. It’s nice to have a new family connection.
My second recent experience reaches back into my childhood. After my two posts featuring my First Communion class picture (see here and here), I got curious about some of the kids in that photo. I started looking on Facebook for them, as well as for some other grade-school and high-school friends. Really, with half the world on Facebook, there’s a lot of information available, unless people proactively block it.
One name I found led me to a closed Facebook group for my high-school class in my hometown of Richland, Washington. I asked to become a member of the group. The next day my request was approved, and I read through all the posts.
The Facebook group has over 100 of my high-school classmates as members. Our class was over 600 strong, so the group certainly hasn’t pulled in everyone, but there were people there I hadn’t thought about in decades. (And people I’d never known. As I said, our class had more than 600 kids in it, and I didn’t know them all.)
I’ve exchanged messages with a few on the group site, become Facebook friends with a couple more, and posted pictures and reminiscences of our common experiences that ended over forty years ago.
It’s been fun to look at recent pictures of the group members I did know. Most of them I look at and say, “Oh, yes. That’s so-and-so.” I probably wouldn’t have recognized these classmates if I’d seen them on the street so many years after graduation. But when Facebook does the work of putting a name with a face, I can see how the teenagers I knew became the sixty-somethings they are today.
I’ve only attended one high-school reunion—my 25th, which was almost twenty years ago. At that time, I was only in touch with a couple of my classmates, though I reconnected with others at the reunion. I have to say, Facebook is an easier way to reconnect. It doesn’t require a plane ticket, a diet, or new clothes. And lurking without seeming anti-social is permitted.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go to another high-school reunion. I’ve only been to Richland twice in the last decade—on the occasions of my parents’ funerals. I have no connection to Richland now except the crypt where my parents’ ashes are interred.
I might someday be drawn to see the town again. Or I might simply lurk on Facebook. With the Internet, I can see as much of the town as I’d like. And now I can follow the people I knew as well.
Have you reconnected with anyone from your past through social media?