It started in 2007 as idle speculation on a handful of blogs: “Will high school reunions simply become a dreary coffee date for the people of your graduation class who *aren’t* on Facebook?”
In 2008 the speculation became a little more mainstream – Adam Kushner of Newsweek hypothesized that if Facebook hurt reunion attendance, it could also hurt alumni giving. He proposed a test – in 2009, the class of 2004 would have an opportunity to attend its first reunion. That was the first year that Facebook was more or less ubiquitous on college campuses, so if the speculation were true, the reunions of 2009 would see a drop in attendance.
2009 seemed to prove Kushner right. Jenna Wortham at the New York Times Bits blog declared that Facebook had robbed her of all motivation to attend her five-year college reunion. The class of 2004 was behaving exactly as Kushner predicted.
As my friend Alexis, a 2004 Harvard graduate who also decided to skip his coming five-year reunion, put it: “The infotech out there has reduced the desire to go ‘just to know’ what so-and-so is up to. I know what just about everyone is doing.”
Wortham reported that she and her colleagues were no longer tantalized by the prospect of finding out what had happened to whom.
In 2009 the Facebook-is-killing-reunions trend story became an official part of the annual journalistic calendar, like stories about the war on Christmas or tips for singles on Valentine’s day. Time reported that in some cases Facebook was inspiring reunions that wouldn’t otherwise happen, while in others it was killing them off:
“There was a Facebook page for my 20-year college reunion, which took place this May,” [says Deborah Dietzler, executive director of alumni relations at the University of Georgia]. “I looked at it a couple of times and it didn’t seem like anyone I knew would be there, so I lost interest.”
By 2010 it was on the Huffington Post of big media, CNN, which declared Facebook’s positive and negative effects on reunions a wash. Clearly no one had yet to go beyond studying it anecdotally.
Skip to the present day, and the data have finally arrived. Timothy Davis, co-founder of the reunion-organizing site Classreport.com, tells The Baltimore Sun that he’s noticed fewer reunions nationwide, with the trend especially pronounced among people in their mid to late 20’s.
What’s it all mean? I don’t know. Probably that we’ll have to endure these stories until the only place that even bothers to report this footnote in the great dematerialization brought about by the web and social media is AARP The Magazine.
Embracing CX in the metaverse
More than just meeting customers where they are, the metaverse offers opportunities to transform customer experience.
Identity protection is key to metaverse innovation
As immersive experiences in the metaverse become more sophisticated, so does the threat landscape.
The modern enterprise imaging and data value chain
For both patients and providers, intelligent, interoperable, and open workflow solutions will make all the difference.
Scientists have created synthetic mouse embryos with developed brains
The stem-cell-derived embryos could shed new light on the earliest stages of human pregnancy.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.