Earlier this year, I had an unwelcome reminder of my age. I received an invite to a Facebook group, QEGS @50. My school year were all turning 50 this year so the group was founded to organize a reunion. Accepting the invite opened a magical box of retrospect.
The group shares music we listened to, stories of antics and teacher’s traits, technology of the time and photographs of the old buildings. It’s also been a fascinating insight into the changes us ‘Generation Xers’ have witnessed. Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith, UK is barely recognizable from 32 years ago. We had prefabricated huts in a terrible state of disrepair and sports changing rooms that would be condemned by today’s inspection standards, but it was (and still is) a good school.
It would seem impossible for the current generation to think, but back in 1984, few people carried a camera. I was the only one of my immediate circle of friends who did. Thankfully the internet provides us with limitless reminders of our era: our clothes and hair styles, our high streets, brands, lifestyle and culture.
I wrote a blog in February about how our memory betrays us. Keeping a diary helps our brains retain accurate memories and social media is making that task easier as we document our lives subconsciously. Facebook’s clever memory hop often throws back surprises.
Facebook is not yet a teenager but its impact is reshaping the world. It’s also evolving. Even though Facebook is still an essential platform for millennials, the demographic age is steadily rising as its use becomes a snapshot of the past – a reflective diary of our lives. In future years, it will be seen as a museum of memories.
I’ve realized many interesting things from this reunion group. People I barely spoke to at school followed a similar career path to me; many enjoyed the same music and had the same interests. I had my circle of friends and we still meet up every ten years or so for a meal and a night out but our paths have drifted. What we have in common are those school memories and little else. I am now becoming friends with people I could barely remember at school and enjoying their company online as if we were all one unit back in the day.
It hasn’t been the same for everybody and I know that those who didn’t enjoy school have no intention of reuniting, and the group has triggered unwelcome memories, which is sad. For most of us, the group is a reminder of our youth and platform to share memories and hopefully create new ones.
I’m looking forward to the reunion in September. Nobody knows what to expect and we are all probably a little nervous, but Facebook has bridged that uncertainty and opened our eyes to the passage of time.
Facebook understands this; their branding model is perfect. They ask users if they feel Facebook cares and use phrases like memories matter. They are right and this gives them sustainability in a realm where nothing online is certain. Facebook won’t fail the way Myspace did as they cater for all generations by sharing the one thing they all have in common – memories.