I’ve known of Facebook for quite a while, probably since it first became popular. But I never had any interest in checking it out until yesterday. I wasn’t interested in posting a bunch of photos, or using the internet to chat with friends, which were the things I knew people used Facebook for. I had been invited to join a couple other social networking groups, and hadn’t found them worth bothering with.
Then yesterday I was reading one of the blogs I visit semi-regularly, Parchment and Pen, and one post had a link to a quiz, “Are you a fundamentalist?” I was pretty sure I wasn’t, but I was curious what it would say I was. Curious enough to sign up for a Facebook account, once I figured out it wasn’t one of the sites I had already joined. I was going to go right back and do the quiz, but as I filled out my profile, I got sidetracked.
I started listing the high school and college I had attended, and discovered that as I started typing each name, it recognized them! That must mean, I figured, that someone else on Facebook had gone to the same school. And that meant I might be able to find people I knew, that I had long ago lost touch with.
I filled in more schools (I attended a one-year Bible school before transferring to a four-year college, and after college got a Master’s Degree, and later went back to school and got an MBA). Each time, it recognized the name of the college. I started thinking of people I might be able to look up.
When I was in high school and college, I didn’t worry much about keeping in touch, except for one or two good friends. I was mostly looking ahead to the future, not concerned much with ties to the past. It wasn’t until my husband had been ordained, eleven years ago, and we were moving to Michigan, that I started thinking about who I might possibly know in Michigan. I had lived fifteen years in or near Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and despite not being good at making friends I had gotten to know quite a number of people. I was saying good-bye now to all of them except my husband and son.
I did manage to locate one college classmate, who had returned to Michigan, and through her I got back in touch with another friend in Indiana. It was good to talk with them, but somehow so much time had gone by, and we had each changed (and married and had kids), and we didn’t live close enough to keep in close touch. I tried to find another classmate from college, who was from a town near where I now lived, but she had probably long ago moved away. Or got married, in which case there was no way to find her without knowing her married name.
I corresponded briefly, one year, with the woman coordinating our high school reunion (twentieth or twenty-fifth, I forget which year it was). I hadn’t known her well, but we had played in the orchestra together, and I was intrigued to learn that the orchestra conductor was now teaching environmental science or something like that. But the people from high school I would have been most interested in were always on the list of “address unknown.”
Now I know where one of them is (British Columbia), and I even sent him a message, though he hasn’t responded yet (I have no idea whether he’ll even remember me.) I didn’t find anyone from college that I was looking for, but I’ll check back now and then as more of us get around to joining.
I also tried looking up names of other people I knew, not from school but friends and relatives. This is harder, as it amazing just how many people have the same first and last names. There are well over a hundred Facebook entries with the same first and last name as me. (On the other hand, there is only one person listed with the same first and last name as my sister, and it’s someone in New Zealand.)
Of course, the idea with Facebook is that you can’t find out more about someone than they want to let people know. When you add someone as a friend, they get access to more information, but even that you can limit. As you find mutual friends, you can widen your circle of people you trust. But you are protected from some complete stranger being able to find you and track you down in real life.
Two people I looked for, though, had pictures I recognized – one of my cousins, and my uncle’s widow. I’ve now seen pictures of my cousin’s children, whom I remembered only as a toddler and a baby from when I last saw them. I guess I’ll need to post some pictures of my kids, for my friends who remember them as little boys and can’t imagine my older son nearly an adult.
P.S. I eventually did get back to the quiz, which I found disappointing. Since I chose the “none of the above” option to some of the questions, where none of the multiple choices really matched my own views, it concluded that I was not a fundamentalist, nor an evangelical, nor an “emerger” nor a liberal, but an “Undecided.” Oh well, it got me to join Facebook, so who cares?