Rethinking Reunions

This blog post is about an event I didn’t attend.

CU25thReunion_450x140This weekend is my 25th anniversary college reunion.  Somehow I have managed to miss all my reunions over the years – there were a few that coincided with job changes, one with having a child. one with moving, etc.  So a few months back I was determined to go this time.  But something else came up this time, so once again I am here while my friends are celebrating back east.

I remember coming up the first reunion 20 years ago – the 5th anniversary one – before Twitter and Facebook and Google, and this company with a funny sounding name – Yahoo! – had just been formed.  It was a huge hassle to call people to find out who’s going and who’s not.  And I actually got useful news updates from friends who attended about friends that I haven’t communicated with in a while.

Now it feels different.  It’s only a few clicks on Facebook to find out who’s attending. I’m in touch with many of my friends so it doesn’t feel like I need to go to the reunion to catch up with them, since we’ve been sharing news and photos continuously.  Nothing beats meeting people face to face, as well as seeing the sights and hearing the sounds of campus, but catching up on news with friends is no longer a reason to attend a reunion.

They had some events streamed live, and some recorded, for those of us who couldn’t attend, and I’m grateful for the school in doing so.  Seeing the class together live at a performance makes up for not being able to bite into a Ra-Ra at 2 in the morning.

I started wondering what reunions of the future might be like.  I think we’ll still want to have regularly scheduled physical gatherings to bring people together.  And there is something special about going back to campus to see the old sites and relive the old memories.  But perhaps more can be done to bring in people who are not attending live.  Today remote people like I was this time are part of the audience, can they be active participants in the future?  In the short term, perhaps through one giant Google hangout.  And in the long term, maybe through some kind of
and/or telepresence robots?  Who knows!

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