Lunchtime Musings: Friends and Aging

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has an article that dovetails quite well with something I’ve recently been thinking about. The article talks about Facebook, and how its user demographic is aging. The issue is not that Facebook is losing younger users — they are still flocking to the site. But people 35 to 54 are now the biggest group on the site, and more importantly, are joining the site at a faster rate. For those that want the numbers, people 35 to 54 account for 28.2% of all U.S. users as of July; 24- to 34-year-olds represent 25.2%; 18-to-24 age group are 25.1% of users, down from 40.8% in January; and those 17 and under made up 9.8% of the Web site’s users, down from 13.5%. Why are these (ahem) older folks joining Facebook? It’s not to play MyFarm or Lil’ Green Thing. It appears they are joining to network, to find long-lost friends, to build or rebuild relationships from high school or earlier.

This goes to what I’ve been thinking about. As my father aged, I noted he was more curious about, and spent more time and effort researching, what happened to his Navy buddies. Letters were written, visits were made. I’ve noticed I’m doing the same thing as I approach 50: I wanted to go to high school reunions, I wanted to find long lost friends. (However, I’ll note this isn’t common: my wife has expressed no desire to find out what happened to those she knew in high school). This desire has intensified as I have gone through my dad’s albums (70+ condensed to 10; I need to order more binders). I’ve seen people from elementary school and early JHS days, when I lived in Westchester — and reconnected with a couple. I actually joined Classmates, and have been attempting to reconnect with other folks from JHS and high school (some I have found on Facebook, some I can’t seem to find, and some I’m not sure I was close enough with to friend). I’ve also done some reconnecting at the college level, although surprisingly it appears a lot of the UCLA Computer Club folk aren’t on Facebook (odd, for folks that have been on the Internet since it started). I’ve made a few college connections, and sent some mail out to others I haven’t heard from in ages.

In doing so, something strange is happening. I’m remembering things. For the longest time, I had very few memories of college, high school, jr. high school, and elementary days. One or two incidents. As I reconnect, it’s coming back… and these are the good memories, for folks seem to want to forget any bad times (I certainly do). Thus, I’m happy this is happening. Reestablishing friendships is a good thing, especially for someone like me that didn’t establish a lot of close friendships. I plan to continue reconnecting, as I can find folks… or they find me.

But I’m curious about whether this is a “just me” phenomenon (do do do do do), or whether others do the same. For those of you who are 25 years or more out of high school: are you starting to feel the urge to reconnect? How are you doing it?