Facebook Is for College Kids—Like Us
By Leslie Klein Westlake ’77
Much to the chagrin of my teenage daughter, I created a Facebook page a couple of years ago. “Mom, no! Facebook is for my friends. Don’t even think about ‘friending’ me.”
I assured her that I was not looking to be one of her hundreds of “friends.” This was simply an experiment. I would only take a few minutes “researching” how this thing worked and why my daughters were so drawn it.
I made a lame attempt at creating a profile page. Interests? Hobbies? Would “wandering from room to room, trying to remember why I came in there in the first place” or “enjoying a lovely glass of wine” qualify? It never occurred to me that anyone would bother reading my information.
Within moments of signing on, I got a friend request. I was shocked to see a message from a high school classmate that I hadn’t seen since 1973. What a bizarre experience! Actually, it was a little bit thrilling. In a split second I was me again. Not a mother. Not a wife. Not an advertising professional. Just me. In this “friend’s” mind, I was probably wearing long straight hair, a miniskirt, and a few blemishes.
One friendship quickly led to another. When I told my daughter, “I just chatted with the quarterback of my high school football team,” her eyes rolled back in her head. “Eww, Mom, don’t get weird.” But it did get weird—and wonderful—as I reconnected with more and more people.
Perhaps the most gratifying were reconnections with my sorority sisters from Rollins. This band of young women who shared some of the most important growing pains of my life, upon graduation (poof!) disappeared. We scattered throughout the country and the world. We never meant to disconnect, but letters (remember letters?) took time to write. And long-distance calls were expensive. The void was filled with careers, marriages, care of children and parents. The carefree existence of Rollins seemed very far away. Friendships would never be as easy to find as they were in the dorm, sharing stories while we brushed our teeth in communal bathrooms.
With Facebook, the names and faces were back. Popping up from everywhere. Some miraculously close by. One of my roommates moved to London after graduation to be married. Surprise! No longer married, she was living in Columbia, South Carolina, about an hour from my home. Since reconnecting, I attended not only her daughter’s wedding, but her own wedding—an old friendship, new again and probably dearer to me now because I thought I had lost her forever.
After “friending” a few more sisters, a mini reunion was in the works. It began with the only Rollins friend who kept in touch with Christmas cards, now living in Oregon. She suggested we meet in Savannah at my parents’ home. The group grew and waned as some found the travel difficult or perhaps chickened out. I admit I was a little nervous about the thought of meeting after 33 years! What in the world would we have to talk about?
It finally came down to four of us who had not been together since 1977. Two were married, two divorced. One had a very busy career in medical sales. One had started a nonprofit for children in Tanzania. One had been a flight attendant, now photographer. And me, an advertising writer.
From the minute they arrived, I chuckled to think that I had worried we might have nothing to say. The talking, the laughing, never stopped. I looked at my watch the first night to see that it was 3 a.m. and we were still wired. Yearbooks opened. The wine flowed. Oldies poured from the iPod. On and on we gabbed, recounting romantic disasters, hilarious antics, and favorite professors.
Beyond the silliness there was a lot of serious discussion and philosophizing. We had some interesting stories to share of the years between our meetings. We also had a lot of plans and dreams for the future, just as we did in college. For one weekend, we were no more than 22 years old and anything was possible. We were grateful to be together again and did not want it to end. In fact, we reconvened the next summer in Greenwich.
Facebook can be strange and addictive, and some people from our pasts are better left in the past. But I’m thankful I gave it a try. I stuck my nose in my daughter’s business and came away with a whole new/old me! Between texting, Twitter, and Facebook, my daughter’s generation may never lose contact. But will they feel the rush of finding long-lost friends? Wouldn’t trade that for the world.