High School Dreams Meet The Facebook Reality of 2012

There was a time when time felt endless.

Don’t tell my mother, but I have been engaging in a very dangerous activity. I have been thinking.

Yep, been using my mind to try to figure out the answers to questions that have more depth than what sort of witty expression should I use for my next Facebook status update.

Two days ago I was added to a Facebook group for my high school and I admit to having spent a couple of moments pointing and clicking my way through the group and thinking about who we were versus who we are today.

In the process I realized that I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about what anyone planned on doing once we left the cozy confines of  Birmingham High School. Back in those days we were called the Braves and my focus wasn’t on the future of my fellow students.

Can’t say if that makes me any more or any less self absorbed than my classmates any more than I can tell you what most of them wanted to do with our lives.

Did We Make a Difference?

Twenty-five years later I can tell you I am curious about what sort of impact we have have had upon the world. Have we made a difference? Did we make it better than it was?

I hope we did.

The most famous of my contemporaries is probably David Gregory who graduated a year behind me. David and I walked the halls of both junior high and high school together and for a while were lunch buddies but I can’t tell you what his dreams were.

I could tell you about other classmates who played professional basketball and baseball. I could tell you about some actors and others who you might know too, but that doesn’t do much other than turn into name dropping.

Nor does it answer the question of did we make a difference.

Although I need to concede that if someone posed the question to me I might wonder what made them arrogant enough to judge and ask why they would pose the question as “did” and not have.

That is because I am part of the class of 1987. We are all in our early forties now and though the future may not be endless there is a considerable amount of time left to make a difference.

Don’t Forget The Sunscreen

Twelve years ago Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich penned the lyrics to that song you just listened to. It wasn’t intended to be a song but life often goes in directions other than you expect.

It is the sort of graduation speech that I wish I would have heard, listened to and accepted. Even if I had heard it chances are it wouldn’t have sunk in because as my grandfather said many times, “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.”\

Speaking of young shoulders I am responsible for several of those now. These little people call me dad and they expect me to have answers to their questions and wonder if I am going to be this goofy when they are my age.

Sometimes when they ask me questions I give them a response that sounds exactly like my mother/father would say and wonder why I am channeling their words while using my voice.

Elections 9-11, Murder and School

Their questions are getting harder and more sophisticated. They want more details about 9-11 and why it happened.  They have asked if I would kill bad guys who broke into our house, why people care what color skin other people have and who I am going to vote for.

Some of it is easy to answer. I tell them I am their father and I will protect them. I explain that some people do things for reasons that make no sense and that we need to think about appropriate responses. When they ask about who I am going to vote for I talk about thinking and not voting for someone or something just because everyone else.

My son wants to know why I looked angry when I said he and his sister need to think about who they want to vote for and why. I forget sometimes the poker face is harder to keep with them. They recognize the signs when I am not saying all that I think.

So I make it easy and explain that we have responsibility to take our votes seriously and to make sure we are educated. I tell them to do what they think is right based upon facts and values not just gut instinct.

Facebook Realities

Later on I cruise through more status updates and stare at some photos of old friends. I read about vacations people took and play around writing about some fabulous trip I never took.

It is silly but part of me feels like it would be fun to talk about scaling Mt. Everest, going on safari in Africa and my cabin in the West Indies. It might be fun to buy some stock photos of the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

Certainly it would be more interesting for people to read than all of the political jibber jabber, but I don’t know if it would qualify as helping to make a difference. Can’t say that it would bring people closer together.

So maybe it is best to try and focus on providing practical advice that we can call benefit from. Since someone already suggested we not forget the sunscreen I’ll suggest we also not forget our umbrellas.

Some people are far more likely to open it than a book and that might actually help prevent them from catching pneumonia which in turn will save their lives and allow me to say that I have made a difference.

What about you?

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  1. Mary Stephenson September 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Josh
    Well I went to one class reunion (at year 16) I think it was the only one they ever had…somebody’s great idea. Back in 1980. I made a better impression (improved with age!) then than I had when in school. But I look at what has happened since and wonder where all the time has gone. Your grandfather was right.
    I would love to go back in time with the knowledge I have today. Would have not made the mistakes or taken foolish chances if I had used the wisdom of my elders. Here I sit and realize the outcome of errors and the magnitude of what needs to be done. All the kids back then, did they ever follow all they dreamed on, probably not.
    If we as kids and if our kids had only listened to half of what was said in youth and acted on it, we would be in a much better place and a whole lot more successful.
    Some great thoughts. The world has changed a lot since we were young. Even at your age…the world was pretty innocent compared to what the kids have to endure today and all the changes that have been made. Some changes have been marvelous and others have been horrible.


    • Josh September 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Mary,

      Welcome to the blog. Time moves ever so quickly, especially the older we get. I think most of us would love to go back with the knowledge we have today. Certainly would make school more fun and more interesting.

      I don’t think the world is any worse now than it was then. It is just different and kids deal with it because they don’t know any different.

      • Mary Stephenson September 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

        Hi Josh
        Well I can agree to you with some part of what you say. But the bullying is at a much higher level and can even follow them home via the internet. Many schools don’t do enough to teach the consequences of bullying. Not only to the one being bullied but the possibility of retaliation if that person got a hold of a gun. So many parents don’t even realize that their sweet little angels are bullies, but unfortunately it happens. It should really be the parents responsibility to teach their own kids but they don’t do a good enough job on that issue. Schools need to step up to the plate on this one. It is not permitted in the workplace although we know it happens. But if anybody is physically abusive in the workplace you can have them arrested. The schools are inclined to think, kids will be kids, but the receiver of the bullying suffers, both physically and mentally. The mental bit can last a lifetime.

        • Josh September 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

          Hi Mary,

          I don’t know if I agree with you about bullying being at a higher level than it used to be. I have to agree that the online component is because it didn’t exist before so clearly that is an issue.

          However the stuff that goes on at school and elsewhere has always been around but it wasn’t documented before the way it is now. We used to just say it was kids being kids and you were told to just suck it up and deal with it.

          But I don’t want to get hung up on whether it is worse now or not because that is not the point. We really are on the same page as to the need for schools and parents to deal with it.

  2. Adrienne September 11, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Well, I’m older then all of you and I’ve been out of high school now let’s see…37 years. Yikes, I just told my age darn it.

    I’ve only been to two high school reunions and I only hung around one person in my class. I was not the popular one and looked upon as an outcast for the most part. Of course I loved going to the reunions because I got better with age and I can’t say that a lot of my classmates did. There is a Facebook group for my class but there is only a couple people in it and I don’t know any of them.

    Times were different back then and I would like to see where some of them are now. But I seriously doubt I’ll be attending another reunion. I wouldn’t recognize those people anyway. lol…


    • Josh September 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      It is always nice to see yourself improve with age because not everyone does. I say that not to be snarky or obnoxious but because I think it is pretty sad when people say that high school was the best time of their lives.

      Most of our lives are lived outside of school so you would think the best time should be lived after.

  3. Tim Bonner September 11, 2012 at 1:47 am

    Hey Josh

    I got invited to a high school reunion through Facebook.

    It was interesting to see all of the people as they are now and think back to what they were like when we were young.

    I haven’t seen all of the them since I left school as we all went our separate ways.

    I decided not to attend as I’m up in Edinburgh and the reunion was back home in England. I don’t think I missed much really.

    People move on and I don’t want to live in the past. I didn’t really like a lot of them anyway!

    Great post Josh and thanks for sharing.


    • Josh September 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Tim,

      I speak with most of the people I want to keep in touch with so the Facebook group wasn’t a huge priority for me. But I have reconnected with a bunch of people I liked back then and it has been fun to get to them as adults.

      So much life goes on after school, it really makes difference. But I haven’t rushed to go to any of my reunions. I hit the ten year and skipped my twenty.

  4. Jens P. Berget September 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I’ve been doing the same exercise as you after I joined an FB group for our 20-year High School reunion a few months ago. I could hardly recognize most people, but when I did, I started thinking of life before and now. The older I become, the more I think.

    • Josh September 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      It is surreal how much some people change and how little others do. I look at some pictures and I haven’t a clue who the person is and others look like no time has passed.

      I almost want to ask if they have had work done but…

  5. Hajra September 10, 2012 at 5:25 am

    They are two different worlds most of the times – high school and facebook. It been ten years since I finished school and now when I see those people (cough, bullies, cough) on FB and I keep thinking so many things. I don’t hate them as much as I used to back then; I kind of feel sympathy for them.

    It is nice to see how life turns out after those ten years. Some make it awesome despite their grades and some find that their grades really aren’t taking them any place awesome.

    And for the FB awesome – that’s something you decide for yourself. How much of it, how detailed and how awesome you want to look. FB really is in our hands…

    • Josh September 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

      By the time I got onto Facebook I had been out of high school for about 20 years so I think the time and space made a big difference. So much has happened to all of us since then…

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