Long Lost Friends & the Social Media Fail

Several years ago when I was just getting into Facebook, converting over from Myspace, I looked for an old friend I had been searching for over the previous five years. I was overjoyed when I found her.

I didn’t like high school much. My most enjoyable year was probably my junior year when I spent most of my time with seniors. When they graduated, I was lost. We did our best to stay in touch but when I started a family early in life, they sadly didn’t know how to handle it. Judgement was passed and friendships withered. It hurt, to say the least, but I did my best to move on.

After a tremendous amount of time had gone by and social media became “the thing,” everyone seemed to be connecting with old friends and finding each other. Now was my chance to re-connect. There were a few people in particular that I hoped would be as excited to find me as I was to find them. I already had missed their weddings, children, college, everything. It was exciting and sad to see where everyone had ended up and how I was nowhere to be found in their lives.

When I found this one girl who I adored in high school, I literally cried. I was excited to have the opportunity to get to know her again. She was still connected to a lot of my old crowd and it was a plethora of joy. I was also conflicted with sadness as they all had seemed to stay connected, but for whatever reason, like so many other times in my life, I was left out.

I contacted my long lost friend through Facebook with an excited message to find her. She accepted my friend request and I asked for her email so I could tell her the joy I experienced when finding her, and how long I had been searching.  She responded to my email far less excited to connect with me, and with little if any enthusiasm. My heart broke. After years of searching for this girl and wondering what happened to her, she, while not completely blowing me off, was very uninterested. I realized a valuable thing that day: not everyone perceives things the way we do. I don’t think she felt less value in our friendship while in high school, but as they all drifted from me and my situation, they let go. Then they had their own families and I was never given another thought. For me, I hung on to them and always wished they had been a part of my family and growth.

Needless to say, the entire group pretty much had the same reaction. No one was excited to be in my life any more than they had been fifteen years earlier when they originally turned their backs on me. I was willing to forgive but they still looked at me with judgement, even all those years later. As much as Facebook and Social Media has played an awesome role in my world, it has also taught me lessons in reality. I have put aside my search and excitement in finding old friends. Letting go seems to be the best policy. I have dedicated the last several years to cultivating and discovering new friendships. The past has left me with some great memories which I am extremely thankful for. These days, I try to leave those memories right where they are — in the past.

 

Where has social media brought you, and what lessons have you learned?

 

 

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19 comments

  1. That’s the exact way I feel, Jess. What a sad realization to come to. There’s very little time to cultivate or rekindle past relationships. Everyone has moved on. I don’t stay in touch with anyone from my high school, and only one or two people from the college years. That was my choice, and life moves on. If someone wants to friend me on Facebook and it’s a distant past relation/friend from my “darker” unformed days, I usually don’t accept the request and move on. Sorry for the angst this has caused you. Not taking it personally helps. Each person walks a singular path. Embrace the people who make you laugh, cry for joy or with empathy, and don’t surround yourself with those who are incapable of doing that for you. Take care, Justin

    1. Thank you Justin and I am sorry you have had similar experiences. Some things are just better left where they are in their yesterday. This is not always true, but I found out the hard way for some things. I am sure it is for the better 🙂

  2. I have had exactly the opposite experience with fB. It has allowed me to track down some folks that I have been overjoyed to reconnect with, and has kept me in contact with some that I had hoped not to disconnect with. True, simple phone calls could accomplish the same in the latter context, but much less likely in the former. One thing rings true, however: People carry the past’s baggage with them. If you were a nerd when you knew them, and were shunned for it, that is how you will be immediately perceived in the present. It is my belief that those who haven’t attained the goals they had hoped to by this age will use that old baggage more as a crutch in the now. Sadly, or perhaps mercifully, it’s probably better for those that move on to avoid reconnecting with those that haven’t, can’t or won’t…Just my two cents…Now buy me a beer!! 😉

    1. IJ, I have had good experiences too. I was overjoyed to reconnect with a lot of people but was also sad to find that others were not as excited. FB is awesome and keeps me close to important people in my life. It is hard sometimes to decide whether or not to reconnect with someone. None of us are who we used to be… or at least we shouldn’t be. This was one crappy story but I do have plenty of things to be thankful for when it comes to FB and connections.

      Buy ME a beer, sir. xoxo

  3. Many of the important relationships I have on Facebook tend to be with people I’ve met somewhat recently. I’m always hungry to engage with those with whom I share adult things in common, inspirations, projects, experiences, complimentary talents.

    In a certain way this quote sums up my social media experience:

    “There comes a point in your life when you realize:
    Who matters,
    Who never did,
    Who won’t anymore,
    And who always will.
    So, don’t worry about people from your past, there’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”
    – Adam Lindsay Gordon

    However, like you were saying Jessica, the chance to reconnect with people you haven’t heard from in years is beautiful. Through my first few years on Facebook I’ve reconnected with a lot of friends from back in high school. I’ve even gone out of my way to meet back up with some of them in real life. I don’t associate with many old acquaintances on Facebook, but keeping in touch with a few of them has been worthwhile. It helps me remember who I am and this inspires me. I hope it provides me the chance to inspire others.

    I know that since we have social media there is a good chance I will be in contact with some of these old friends for our entire lives. If the social media technology had stayed in the state it was a few years ago, my old friends and I likely wouldn’t ever have even seen or heard from each other again. What a huge paradigm shift!

    Working on web publishing projects over the past 3or 4 years I’ve built a lot of relationships with artists and writers and other creatives. Facebook provides a forum where you can get pretty close to people and connect creatively, despite the spacial barrier. Creativity is about communication. But it definitely hasn’t been all positive for me.

    Sometimes you feel like you have a legit connection with someone and you decide to work on it and try to build something, while in fact, you don’t really know the person well enough to commit to something. It’s tricky, and I know now that if I want to have real lasting relationships pertaining to any sort of creative project that the lines of communication need to feel very open. Maybe I’m just needy hahaha… But anyways, I think in order to build something good everyone involved must believe in each other. I lose faith easily while sitting in a dark room staring at things I don’t like on a screen.

    Everyone involved in a creative project must know where each others’ heads are at, and that they are gradually getting to know each other for real, and that they are all aiming their energies more or less in the same direction. It’s too easy for things to go off the rails when people aren’t truly accountable to each other because the projects, the relationships, and the whole of these life experiences can still be perceived by anyone as “just some internet thing”.

    1. Sal, your comment was very comforting and wow did that quote hit the spot. Perfect for what I went through. You’re are right in so many ways and SM has allowed us to really break barriers and reach places and people we never would have been able too. It also builds new road blocks where we must, as you said, learn to get past the being online thing. To find new and real ways to connect through a screen. It can be a challenge but there are great things on the other side.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your words of wisdom. xoxo

  4. Jessica,

    I can relate 100% to your story. I felt the same way when I discovered “old friends” on Facebook! Now, I LOVE all the new friends, even though they are miles away, that have popped into my life.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. I have experienced all the variations – people happy to find me, people who were only vaguely interested that I was still breathing, and people I hadn’t thought of in years. What I discovered was that even in the case of people I’d specifically sought out, our lives were not necessarily compatible anymore. That doesn’t reflect any judgment or disinterest on either side – and honestly, I couldn’t remember in most cases why or how we lost touch in the first place. What I’ve found is that when you reconnect with people as adults, their interests may no longer sync up with yours, their schedules may conflict with yours, or their personalities may no longer mesh well with yours. As much as I’ve grown and changed over the years, my long-lost friends have done the same, and as much as I’d love to be able to retrieve some of those relationships, it’s sometimes best to just let them go. There is something artificial about the way that modern social media allows us to reconnect with our pasts – it’s perhaps kinder to leave those people as memories we can cherish instead of transforming them into adults we can’t please.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more Elizabeth. I too have experienced a wide variety of good and bad with all social media. It is just something to get used to and learn to manage. Thank you for stopping by and for your lovely and insightful comment 🙂

  6. I think social media has taken on too much weight. I was de-friended the other day by a long time friend – not because of anything I had done, rather because he had split with his wife, and I am closer to his wife than I am to him. It stung. I understood why he did it. It was probably easier for him not to be connected to me, even in that somewhat phony way, but it still felt like banishment. Which is strange to me, that something like facebook, ostensibly a medium for creating and fostering friendships, can make me feel like I don’t have friends.

    1. You’re right Tara, it does carry far too much weight. People want to make things “facebook official” and use it maliciously. Just like everything else, it can be an ugly thing and not what it was intended for.
      I hope your friend can find a medium and still be friends with you, that is a tough situation. I also hope that you find real friendships even among this very virtual world. I too struggle to find the real and long lasting ones. xoxo

  7. I’ve found that FB hasn’t helped me much at all. My family immigrated, and it’s been an ordeal to find people that I went to elementary school with, especially the girls because they married and changed their names. I’m with you…I would far rather spend my time forging new and vital friendships (even those online friendships) than searching in vain for someone I played with in grade school. Excellent and poignant post!

    1. Thank you for reading Lorca 🙂 It is a difficult balance sometimes. It was very exciting at first to search out old friends but I learned quickly that it wasn’t as awesome as I originally thought. I too spend much more time building on relationships that are here and have been here. xxoxoxo

  8. I feel the same way, Jessica. I have been able to reconnect with a few old friends and it’s gone well, but others have pretty much ignored me. It’s disappointing, but I have had to learn to deal with it.

    1. Funny how life works that way sometimes, Jamie. It is just another thing we have to adjust too. Communication and relationships are in constant change with Social Media and the Internet. 🙂

  9. I came to same end road by different route. when I moved back to the old home place. lot of folk, I thought should have been excited to have me back. . .weren’t. indifferent. I’ve not tried to reconnect the wires of the past on my two avenues of social media. by chance, I have found some family and gotten to know, but noone from childhood outside of blood kin has even shown interest in knowing me today. I’ve seen a few of those on others’ friends list and ran into one or two by chance in real life since moving back to the place. . .but for most part my social media friends are those with whom I interact now and share like intersts. . .distance matters not. and I’m ever grateful for that circle

    Monty

    1. That is why I wondered if things were just best left untouched. In some cases it is and others you don’t want to feel as though you missed out. Hard to know which way to go. We all grow up and apart, this of course is normal. Sad but normal. 🙂

  10. I think I may be on the best friends side with this one as I’m currently going through the same social media thing with an old friend of mine. Suffice to say, we’ve drifted apart (and that was painful enough) and I don’t feel I even know her anymore nor she me. She’s really bad with communication/keeping in touch and she lives at the opposite end of the country…I feel like “If your not going to try, why should I.” She’s sent emails once in a blue moon and I’ve responded but then I won’t hear from her for a year. And that fact alone is sad. Thus, I’ve stopped trying.

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