Facebook | The Enticement of Finding Old Friends

© Copyright 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway with all rights reserved.

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As an adult, the picture perfect memories of my childhood friends and experiences had mostly faded; my current life keeps me busy. As I grew up, keeping in touch with friends from camps and grade school was not easy and most people lose touch with these friends. It is fun to reminisce about those days and special friends we hold so dear to our hearts. Now as an adult with a family of my own, I would sometimes wonder what happened to many of these dear friends of mine, how are their lives going, do they remember or think of me? Finding them held the possibility of rekindling these friendships that had slipped through my fingers like sand, never to be found again.


Then Facebook entered the stage, as did the expanding internet search possibilities. I joined Facebook in 2008 at the encouragement of my brother, but really had no idea of what I was getting into. I suddenly found some of these cherished friends “friending” me, and when this happened the details of many of those childhood memories flooded my mind. One friend posted photos and reminded me of how we got in trouble on a teen camp trip to Montreal and had to stay in our hotel room one night. I had forgotten this. Memories of the boy that asked me to be his girlfriend in elementary school and a few days, after I said “no” threatened to beat me up in a note saying “meet me at the mailbox at 3:00.” He is now my Facebook friend as well.


I thought wow, now I don’t have to wonder anymore about the lives of my long lost dear friends. On some level I dreamed of rekindling some of these cherished friendships that ended due to life changes. As time went on I found that the idea of rekindling anything was highly unlikely and might be better off left as a fond childhood memory than an adult reality. This is the same bittersweet experience that has been related to me by numerous friends. In a discussion on the topic, a eloquent friend of mine once said "to me those memories are like still lifes, or something incased in amber." Maybe they are better left untouched. The allure of rekindling these old friendships can end up being less than fulfilling.


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The reconnection goes something like this: there is a thrill to finding that cherished childhood friend, a few messages are exchanged catching up on each others lives and then there is a dead internet silence, since once both parties are filled in and now as adults there most likely isn’t anything more to say; there seems to be little commonality.


Perhaps our lives are complete without this person. So they stay in the periphery of your life on Facebook, maybe “liking” your vacation photos to Disney World. Are the golden memories of childhood better left in the past?

I find myself revisiting this question of whether to click the “add a friend” box to newly found old friends that pop up on Facebook from time to time. Will doing this erode the memories that I held of them? However, being the friendly optimist that I am, I hate to miss the opportunity to say hello even if I pay the price down the line.


In My Life by The Beatles

In childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking out. In memories of childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking in. ~Robert Brault

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vissitor profile image

vissitor 5 years ago from Sonoma Valley, California

An engaging and provocative look at a subject that each of us encounters at some time or another and especially in light of the phenomenon of social networking. As you correctly underscore, the inevitability of rediscovering old friends presents a more complex issue than at first it may seem. Thoughtful and perceptive, Tracy. And with your usual sensitivity. Thank you. Voted up and interesting.


jseven profile image

jseven 5 years ago from Michigan

Facebook has its pros and cons like everything else. I reconnected with a high school friend and we then connected with another best friend, which brought us all together for the first time in 38 years. That was wonderful! My son lives out of state and I can see what he is up to through Facebook and that is great. Others? I have denied friendship because my past is better left there. Voted up.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

@vissitor - Yes, the possibility of finding old friends is more complex then one would first imagine. Each person seems to approach the reconnecting possibilities differently, on one end of the spectrum people give it little thought and just friend anyone they have known. On the other end of the spectrum people avoid Facebook altogether. As one friend once said to me "Anyone that matters is in my life already, so I don't need Facebook." I have also heard of some beautiful reunion stories of long lost friends who are able to pick up where they left off. Thank you for your kind comments and for the votes!

@Jseven - That reunion after 38 years must have been wonderful! That does represent one of the beauties of Facebook with the possibility of finding so many people. Facebook also offers a great way to connect with relatives, but that is if the relatives actually utilize it. Sometimes denying the additional friend is the best way to go. Thank you for your vote!


RhebaE profile image

RhebaE 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, CA

I sometimes think that the people who found old friends before facebook and had to put inn more effort were more sincere about reconnecting. Now I suspect there are some cases of people who are just nosey about what others are up too. Just my 2 cents.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

RhebaE, that is an excellent observation!


RhebaE profile image

RhebaE 5 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, CA

I borrowed that observation from another poster. Facebook is probably responsible for a few breakups I suspect. If people were really interested in finding a lost friend before facebook, they would have found them. Its really not that hard and no need to hire a PI either.


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 5 years ago from Lagos

Facebook has proved helpful in rekindling old friendship. But it can also do worst than that. The secret lies in being discreet and careful. Best of wishes. Voted useful and interesting


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 5 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Ubani, you are right, there are pros and cons to these internet re-connections and careful discretion IS the secret to navigating this world successfully. Thank you so much for the votes and best wishes to you too.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Tracy, hey you have Facebook articles as well! I figured it was only right to choose this one to read first... I completely identify with how a friend who used to be a bully is now your FB friend. I had a similar experience! Well written Tracy :)


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA Author

Christy, yes I do have a few Facebook hubs:) Facebook has changed the nature of friendships and even the structure of our social interactions and there is no going back. Did you really have a former bully 'friend' you? I have heard of another story like this. I used to give lots of consideration to whether or not to 'friend' a person but now I don't think it is that important, at least not in a cyber sense. Thanks for the great comment and compliment, they are both very much appreciated.

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