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Two months ago I received an invitation to my five-year high school reunion. I threw it away immediately. I didn’t even look at the date or the schedule of reunion events—something about a parade, something else about a bar. I saw a picture of four guys I never cared for pointing at a sign that read CLASS OF 2007. What I wanted to throw away was the idea that five years ago I was a high school senior. Stinky! Stinky! Stinky!

Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!

I can’t decide whether 2007 seems impossibly long ago or impossibly not-very-long ago. Somehow it’s both, in that funny perspectival way of conflicting emotions. So much has happened in the intervening years that I shudder to think how old I felt at eighteen. Perhaps I really was old, and now I’m simply older. Or, perhaps age is a function of foreshortened time, hard lessons learned and losing battles fought, that taken together bring about a general resignation to a growing number of things, the exhaustion of which just makes us feel old. I don’t imagine I’ll be sure for another five years, or maybe five years after that.

Part of my hesitation about my impending reunion, I told myself, has to do with an aversion to conversations with near-perfect strangers that begin, “So…what are you up to these days?” This is a well-known opening act for the better-known headliner, “Well I’ve been…” from whoever it is I’m stuck talking to. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to participate if I were living abroad, or the star of my own TV show, or a mule running used paperbacks to Kandahar. Living at home and looking for jobs don’t quite seem schmoozeworthy.
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My dad once told me never to write anything down that I wouldn’t want read back to me in court. It was rather a startling note of caution to offer a twelve-year-old on AOL Instant Messenger, but the point was well taken. From that point on, typing anything anywhere online felt like a gamble with infamy. Fast-forward to 2011, and my worst fears of 2001 seem very nearly realized.

Baby’s First Status

The slow, wall-by-wall encroachment of Facebook’s “Timeline” feature has for many of us brought the past five or six years to a harrowing present. Now, suddenly and without preface, the Facebook pasts of friends, friends-of-friends, and Facebook-official loved ones lurk in a single sidebar—every wall post, every status update, every damning e-flirtation ever issued, all collected chronologically in one place. Be still, my mouse.
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Originally published in the College Voice at Connecticut College.

The saying goes that nothing has truly happened until it’s “Facebook official”—relationships, friendships, and, in the inexorable march of social media into every stage of life, engagements, marriages, and birth announcements. All meet first with veracity beneath the comforting, steel blue banner of Facebook. Everything of apparent social note is set to electronic record through photo albums, event pages and status updates. The entire exercise is tantamount to scrap-booking for the Information Age.

In one of its more recent renaissances, Facebook added a link on everyone’s page that reads “View Friendship.” On the other side of this startling hyperlink, years-long real-life friendships of incalculable emotional depth and history can be reduced to a single page of photos and wall posts, common interests and events attended—you know, in case you’d forgotten.
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