Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leave your livestock alone

My ten-year school reunion was on last weekend and I didn't go. Not being on Facebook meant that I was the last to know about it, only hearing at all because my brother happened to have been talking to a guy I was in school with. By that stage I had made plans for Saturday night anyway. Not plans that couldn't be changed, mind, but plans.
It would be easy for me to get in a huff and launch into one of my tirades against the privacy-thieving monster of a social network that dominates our lives, but I won't. "How else would they have organised it?" asked a colleague, who's really old enough to know better. "People had fucking reunions before 2006, you know," I managed not to spit back at her. In reality, though, I appreciate that posting a simple statement on a forum that no doubt 99% of my classmates are affiliated to is infinitely less hassle than tracking down current postal addresses and snailmailing every single one of them, or even emailing each person.
So no, my failure to attend was not because I was fucked off that people think that if you're not on Facebook you must be dead. It was something more intangible than that; and that troubles me. There was, perhaps, a time when I thought I might skulk into my ten-year reunion like John Cusack in Grosse Point Blank, all angsty and in need of some sort of redemption. I would confront those who were the biggest bastards to me, make a few quips and, with any luck, stab someone to death with a pen and make off with the startlingly compliant Minnie Driver.
Turns out school just didn't matter enough to me for any of that to be necessary. People weren't really bastards there, or at least to no greater degree than any teenager is. We were all just folks cooped up together for 35 hours a week in a place where we didn't particularly want to be. It was only oppressive in its mundanity, rather than its cruelty. I find it hard to think of the experience as anything beyond humdrum, and for that reason don't find celebrating with my old classmates any more of a logical thing to do than to celebrate with people I see on the bus to work most mornings. I'm still in touch with the ones I want to be in touch with, and I seem to lack the gene to make me curious about the ones I'm not.
Nostalgia? What is that? We still play video games and we still listen to The Prodigy and Radiohead. If nostalgia for people my age is pretending you liked the Spice Girls more than you did and sitting in a kip of a pub drinking until you overcome your mutual lack of interest in each others' lives then Nostalgia can fuck right off. And so can Facebook.

11 comment(s):

Tessa said...

Well said (written), Andrew. Why anyone would want to attend a school reunion is a complete mystery to me. I wouldn't know any of my old schoolmates from a hole in the ground, so why would I want to travel miles in order to make small talk with them? All we ever had in common was a hatred for the nuns, which is not much of a foundation for building lifetime relationships.

Conor said...

I'm as quick as anyone to nun-hatred, but when it comes to school, I was lucky enough to have the Jesuits. It's almost impossible to hate them. Or their "ethos". I still wouldn't be arsed attending a reunion mind you.

And Facebook can indeed fuck off. I've never joined, and I never will, so shove your "openness" up your hole Zuckerburg. I'm going to be as quietly anti-social as I've always been.

Andrew said...

Tessa - Thanks. I was a little worried that this post would come across as bitter and isolated when all I really want to illustrate is how unimportant my time in school feels to me now, and how odd I find the concept of enforced jollity with people I never saw as kindred spirits anyway.

Conor - Being a dirty prod I've no real knowledge of the Jesuits, but from what I've heard they seem to be as decent a bunch as you'll find under the Vatican umbrella. As for reunions, I suspect the whole fandango might be a bit like that springsteen song 'Glory Days', with lads talking about the great goal they once scored for the under-15s and realising it was one of the highpoints of their life.
And yeah, that Zuckerberg comes across as a right old cunt, doesn't he? Glad he hasn't got my details to pass around and chuckle about.

Gimme said...

' I was lucky enough to have the Jesuits. It's almost impossible to hate them.'

That's the most ridiculous statement I've seen on the internet this week and I read the sample chapter of 'The Origin of Specious Nonsense.'

Catherine said...

I'm really, really glad my reunion never materialised. I used to organise them in fifth and sixth year (student council, yawn), so I know there would have been embarrassing video clips (hello, starring turn as Reverend Mother in school musical) and no booze. And 150 people I hadn't seen in ten years and have absolutely no desire to see again.

Conor said...

Maybe mine were namby-pamby, dont-really-give-a-bollocks Jesuits? I had the Limerick crowd and all they really cared about was rugby, and "ethos". I was never moved to hatred anyway.

And fuck Zuckerburg again.

Jo said...

I think the Limerick Jesuits beat the crap out of my father back in his day, but I hear they have a good reputation these days. Certainly for academic achievement and exam results.

Facebook isn't the end of the world. It's a little irritating but it can be what ever you want it to be.

My cousin just found her adoptive mother through it, to great joy.

And reunions, meh.

Some Birds said...

I skipped my 10-year this summer too. I could have maybe made it, if I wanted to spend the entire summer in the US, which I didn't.

High school was a good time. But, when it came down to it, I find myself amazed at just how very little I cared. Like you said, in touch with the people I need to be...

Andrew said...

Gimme - Bored? You should hang out on the Guardian blogs, mine's far too slow moving.

Reverend Mother - Damn those pre-yoochoob years.

Conor - Yes. Quite.

Jo - I know the article I linked to is a bit long and all that, but I find it hard to see the whole thing as benign and innocent after reading it.

Some Birds - I don't usually shy away from an opportunity for a few drinks and a chat, but like you I found myself amazed by how little i cared. Kinda like being in school, now I think about it.

Annie said...

I don't think there's any need for reunions since the advent of Facebook. I don't really want to meet people, I just want to be nosy. Which I can now do from the safety of my own home.

Unknown said...

Well, I get an annual email shot to the effect that the annual golf&dinner&AGM will be at some hotelgolfing destination. But I never go since the only club I recognise is the lowest ranking suit in that game of cards played over troubled waters.
However, since the school is a long time closed I am hoping to outlive all the other 'old boys' and declare myself chairman/secretary/treasurer for life and do away with the golfing theme.