I’ve reached that age. I am happy with my husband, my three kids, my work and my social media life. Two weeks ago, I decided to arrange a 2014 school reunion for my year group only. The trick now was to get in touch with as many school friends as I could, to ask them to save the date. I had a pretty good idea that, out of the 47 names on the ‘Class of ’81’ list, I was connected through my network to around 15-20 of them. How hard could it be?
Class of ’81 Facebook group
I set up a ‘Class of ’81’ Facebook group and invited my school mates from the here and now to join, with a request to invite further members. The enthusiasm from within the expanding group about the potential reunion was terrific! Friends were bantering exactly as they had done in our school dormitories 32 years before except, this time, they were adding pictures and sharing anecdotes across social media – a concept not even known to science fiction the last time they had communicated!
I uploaded the class list to the Facebook group, asking for clues as to married names, locations and interests… Over the following days, I used Facebook, LinkedIn and my reliable chum, Google – together with a heavy dose of tenacity – to unearth a further 12 school mates from around the world.
Having married names was certainly a help. As my research continued, I found there were three categories of internet engagement when it came to seeking these ladies out…
If I may call them “low-hanging fruit”, these were the people who had a social media profile and a picture. Bingo!
If you want apples, you have to shake the trees
These were the names that were further out of reach. I had to dig deeper. These ladies live their lives offline; they do not actively engage with the internet. Based on the premise that even these people must leave an online imprint somewhere, I sent Google in to find them.
My instincts paid dividends! One lady’s contact details were published at the bottom of a Pony Club newsletter; another had written to a dog magazine several years before. A few more had left similar footprints…
Many flowers, few fruit
These are the blind alleys, the few names outstanding on the “Where are they now?” list that even Google, with their super-dooper spiders, would be unable to find. Without a married name, a business interest or an international location, I have no way of knowing where in the world these people are and what they are doing – with or without a social media presence.
How on earth did they plan school reunions pre-internet?
My husband might not agree, but I am wedded to the worldwide web. It’s my first port of call when I want to obtain information – and quickly!
The one recurring question that came to mind every time I went online to find someone was “How on earth did they plan school reunions before the internet?” Our reunion date is fourteen months away, not because I need the time to trace my school mates, (I have Google and social media to thank for that); the time span has more to do with the lead time people need in order to attend an event such as this. In the old pre-internet days, tracking people down after thirty years must have been a painstaking postal process. No, thank you!
Much better, social media and Google’s robotic spiders! The latter have scoured, browsed and crawled over the worldwide web in a methodical, automated manner, instantaneously bringing school friends back for me. Bravo!
Save the date, Googlebot; you’re invited! You are welcome to crawl over the items on the “nostalgia table”…
I’d love to know how social media and Google have saved you time and effort. Would Google’s web spiders be welcome at your special event?