Social Networking Before Facebook

Facebook … so many people depend on this expansive social network … it can even become an addiction where its unavailability feels like withdrawal for some.

Then there are thousands of others who eschew the network … they consider it trivial, they prefer their personal information and social connections not be publicly available. Launched in February of 2004, the Facebook network boasts over 1.3 billion active users and over 2 billion registered users.facebook 1

Though I try to limit my time on Facebook, I’m an “active” user. Once or twice a day, I open the browser window to catch up with whatever stories have accumulated in my timeline. I don’t often post, as such, but my blog posts are always cross-posted from WordPress to Facebook. That’s about the measure of my use.

As soon as I added personal information to my page, I realized the world of Facebook was an artificial one. The day I noted my marital status (several years back), the site reflected my “new” marriage without acknowledging the fact my Beloved and I had been married more than 40 years (at that time).

With a cyber-mind like that of a small child, Facebook’s social network suffers an irritatingly NOW mentality. Life events only truly happen when you’ve posted them to Facebook.

Today I opened my FB page and there was a Friend request. I accepted it, clicking over to my friend Diana’s FB page. Upon seeing the page, I laughed. Here’s a screen-snap of what amused me. It says “Your friend since January.” Diana and I have in fact been friends for nearly 50 years! Fifty years!DianaFB

This is just one instance of the social network’s short-sighted approach, presuming because a “connection” was made today, that should signal the beginning of the relationship.

Little distractions like this send me off to reminisce, so today was no different. I took a walk down Memory Lane and thought it would be fun to recall details about the long-ago summer of 1965 when my “new” Facebook friend and I had just met.

EskimoInnMenuWe became friends at the Christian conference center in Winona Lake, Indiana. (I’ve mentioned the place in a previous post.) We worked together at a restaurant called The Eskimo Inn … and would you believe, I still own an employee-signed menu from the place! (My name appears in the upper left corner with the date 1965.)

What’s funny (and typical of our crazy interactions) is, Diana signed her name and went on to write an essay! Her comments (just below “Welcome to“) wrap around the menu’s margins. (In those days, she used the name “Diane” but it’s clear even then she was not a woman of few words!)

The summer of 1965 was my first summer away from home. It was an age before computers and cell phones and texting – and social networks like Facebook, and friends forged relationships by working, living and playing together. Most of the time, we walked everywhere … to work, to the store, to our living quarters, to the lake and all points in between. Few of us were fortunate enough to own a car, but we didn’t mind.

In those days, long distance phone calls were also few and far between. There was an ancient black pay phone in the lobby of our “hotel” (a dormitory-like residence for employees of the conference center), but calling home required a pocket full of coins, so I think I called Mom and Dad once or twice that summer … and never when I suffered from pangs of homesickness! (I didn’t want to give my dad any excuse to come get me.)

WinonaLake_Diana

Diana 1965

Diana 2015

Diana 2015 from Facebook

In addition to the menu, I still have Diana’s high school picture (shown at left). Remember those wonderful grayscale school pictures where (when you tried to cut them) you could never quite get the white borders to come out evenly?!

At right is Diana’s 2015 Facebook picture. Still a beautiful woman, and while her hairstyle has changed, she has aged with her usual grace. Actually, her high school photo enjoys the advantage of having been airbrushed. The Facebook photo still gives a hint of the fun-loving person. (Too bad the pictures don’t come with an mp3 clip featuring her vocal talent because she sings beautifully.)

One of the things I remember is how much fun we had that summer playing pranks on our fellow employees. Part of the delight of living together was the instant camaraderie that developed. Recalling now that summer from a rear-view mirror perspective of fifty years, it’s almost impossible to imagine it could have been that long ago!

My brief stroll down Memory Lane would not be complete without some other shared high school pictures. In addition to Diana’s photo, I found four others.

Winona-Four-Friends

Recognize anyone you know? … Anyone who might be familiar by imagining an age progression of fifty years?

Unfortunately, I haven’t kept up with these four friends from what seems like another lifetime. Bert and I attended the same college, but I lost track of her later. Last I heard, Lois was running a guest house somewhere in Colorado. (I know nothing about the guys.)

In retrospect, I guess that’s the beauty of 21st Century social networks like Facebook. Long lost friends can now be more easily reunited.

Renée