April 26, 2009
On Facebook, class reunions, and paranoia
Last week, my mother forwarded an email from a high school classmate of mine. I suppose we were friends, in that we hung out a lot together. It was a pretty small high school (250 students), though, so friend options were rather limited. In fact, there is only one person I went to high school (and elementary school, and college) with that I care to still keep in touch with, and still do keep in touch with, and that’s K, who I talk to and visit whenever I can.
Anyhow, this classmate contacted my mother, who is infinitely more google-able than I am (under my real name), wanting to get in touch with me. My guard immediately went up. I did not have a good high school experience. I know a lot of people say that, and I can’t say my experience was any better or worse than anyone else’s, but I know that I did not enjoy myself. I was the butt of many jokes, some of which were immortalized in yearbooks. Up until my senior year, I was a geeky, short-hair, owl-glasses-wearing kid. Pretty homely and extremely insecure.
It turns out that the reason she wanted to get a hold of me was because our 20-year class reunion is this year. My friend K conveniently “forgot” my phone number and email when she talked to our classmate, which I had asked her to do. See, I don’t really want to be found by those people. I didn’t like most of them in high school, and I don’t care to know them now. Needless to say, I will be skipping the reunion.
Which brings me to Facebook.
I’m late to the Facebook game. I tend to keep a minimal presence online under my real name. Being a teacher, I don’t really want my private life subject to scrutiny by students, parents, fellow teachers, or school administrators. It’s not like anyone who knows me here, on Rav, on Flickr, or from other online places couldn’t figure out who I am, but I try to keep the connections between the online me and the real me separate.
I’ve had a Facebook account for a while under my real name, but haven’t really used it much. I’ve got only a few FB friends, people I either know or blogfriends who know my real name. (BTW, if you DO know my real name, it’s OK to find me over there.) I haven’t seen a need for it, though my friend K and her sister (in the hospital on bedrest because of a complicated pregnancy) have both recently signed up, and since we’re all in different cities, we chat.
I know that makes me findable to my students, but everything is locked down pretty tight, so I can control what they see. I also don’t link here, to Flickr, or to Rav.
It also makes me findable to people I have known in the past. Most people, I don’t mind that. I’ve got college friends that I’ve lost touch with that I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with. But the same cannot be said for high school. So when I finally broke down and entered my HS name and grad year into FB, I was startled and a little paranoid by some of the names that popped up, names I haven’t seen or thought about in 20 years. And it brought back some old feelings that I would rather keep buried. See, I don’t want to be found by those people. I don’t know them now, and don’t care to. Even 20 years later, there is still a huge amount of anger and resentment.
It also brings up a sense of paranoia in me, since really now anyone can find me at any time. Before FB, the only online information about me went to either my school or information about my recent National Board certification. Now, anyone can find me and get a hold of me. I don’t know that I like that. Kind of makes me feel like I’m being watched. Not in a literal sense, of course, but figuratively.
Maybe I need to rethink the whole FB thing.