Social networking is rather new to me. I started this past January at the suggestion of a book publisher. In one of our earliest email exchanges, she asked if I did any social networking or blogging as a way of self-promoting my book. At the time I had to say no. I did have a profile on LinkedIn with about 255 personal contacts I had made over the years through work or community activities. Facebook was a passing fad to me, designed for teen agers and the younger generations, not baby boomers. So in January I took the plunge and started open networking on both LinkedIn and Facebook. As of today, I have 605 friends on Facebook and almost 4,200 contacts on LinkedIn. And while the underlying purpose at first was self-promotion, I am thrilled to have discovered some genuine unexpected joys in social networking. I’m glad my initial impressions were wrong.
The joys come entirely from reacquainting myself with people I grew up with. Men and women who were very important to me at various times in my life who for some reason or another I lost contact with as our lives paths took alternate routes. For example, a little over a month ago, I was reminiscing with my wife and telling her about a little girl who used to chase me around the park that was situated behind our apartment building in Jersey City. We lived in the Curries Woods housing project. My parents moved us there from Brooklyn when I was four years old. We moved away from the projects when I was ten.
I remember this girl, named Lynn vividly. We went to kindergarten together. She used to chase me around the park and the PS 30 school yard. I never used to let her catch me because even though I liked her I was afraid of girls back then. Her parents moved her away after a couple of years. I never heard from her or have seen her since. We must have been around seven or eight when she moved. I always wondered what happened to her. Wouldn’t you know it, not even a few days after I told this story to my wife, I get a message on Facebook from guess who? None other than Lynn! What a joy to know she’s done very well for herself.
Then, there’s my best friend Bill from our high school years. We lived in the same neighborhood but attended different high schools. He was as a brother to me. We spent as much of our free time together as possible and some of the fondest memories I have are from spending time with his family during the summer at Manasquan at the Jersey Shore.
We haven’t seen or spoken to each other in almost 34 years. I found someone on LinkedIn with the same name as my dear old friend and sent him a message asking if he was the same Bill I knew in Jersey City. It was he! We spoke for about an hour the other day catching up on each others lives. It’s great to know he’s living in Austin, Texas and is happily married with three college-aged children. Even though so much has happened in our lives, the time we spent talking flew by. He’s still the same jovial person a long remember.
Yes, there have been some very unexpected surprises for me with social networking. But they’ve been great surprises, which bring warmth, joy and a rekindling of the affections that were so important to my upbringing.