Facebook was created for college students to get in touch with each other. It has helped people stay in touch online so well, that it might be hurting attendance at real-world class reunions.
This means the excruciatingly awkward reunion scenes in movies — where the dorks and princesses get together to prove that either they've become cool or are still cool — don't have to happen in real life.
Consider a scene from the 1997 film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. When Romy is asked if she has any kids, she says no, she's been too busy running her own business inventing Post-its.
Now you don't have to bother lying about how brilliant you are. Thanks to social networks, everyone already knows.
'Unplug For A Night'
Marc Gervase graduated from Philadelphia's Strath Haven High School in 2001. He has no plans to go to his 10-year reunion.
"I already know what everyone is doing," he says. "If I needed to find out I could contact them or stalk them through said stalking methods — the unsaid Facebook, Twitter updates."
It seems he's not the only one.
"Ten years ago, you would've gotten maybe 250 people at a 10-year reunion," says Joanna Erdos, vice president of the alumni association for L.A.'s John Marshall High School. "I recently attended a 10-year where there were 94 people. There was another one where I heard the attendance was 43."
Mark Silva, CEO of Great Unions, one of the nation's largest reunion planning companies, says attendance at 10-year reunions is declining across the country. More people are staying in touch, so Silva is changing his marketing pitch from "Find out what became of Sally" to "Unplug for a night."
"There are a lot of people who believe that Facebook is good enough, and they don't want to get together. Well, we try to educate them about, I guess you'd call it, real personal connections," Silva says.
He points out that Facebook could end up helping with those real personal connections. If you get past the "What are you doing?" formalities on a website, you can get to the more important business of telling people what you really think in person.
Technology Vs. Reality
In another scene from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, the tormented Heather and the ditsy Romy reach an epiphany: "I really thought you guys had it made in high school, and the whole time you were making my life hell, the A-group was making your life hell. I didn't know," Heather says. "You know what? I bet in high school, everybody made somebody's life hell," Romy responds.
Reunion planners claim there's no substitute for that kind of face-to-face, grownup connection. Technology comes and goes, they point out, but reality stays. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.