How did this happen? Thirty years ago I left high school behind forever. I went to a boarding school in Switzerland, so the chances of the 70 students in my class having regular reunions was nil.
Enter facebook. At first I was thrilled to reconnect with classmates I hadn't heard from since graduation. To be honest, there were people I hadn't even thought of since then, but our shared experience was our bond, and it was interesting to discover the narrative arc that their lives had taken over that time and to find out what they were doing now.
A couple of weeks ago, though, someone in our class got the bright idea to set up a conference call reunion. He circulated a phone number and PIN that we could all call at an appointed time. He asked us all to forward the information to other classmates and then to send in a brief bio in advance so that people would have talking points.
All of a sudden I was back on that small, exquisite campus where everyone knew everyone else, but we didn't all socialize. Sure, I had a core group of friends, but we had stayed in touch before fb, and I really didn't spend much time with too many of the other kids. Now they expected me to call in and make small talk for two hours. It'll be just like hanging out at Angelo's or Montag someone wrote, and I realized just how far I hadn't come.
The virtual peer pressure to participate was intense. E-mail bios were arriving every half-hour along with the count of all those who would be dialing in. Everyone was doing it, and I didn't want to disappoint, but I didn't want to do it, either. Just like that, thirty years of accomplishment and confidence-building crumbled beneath me, and I knew that I would be uncomfortable if I did and uncomfortable if I didn't. I was transported right back to the worst part of high school, not fitting in with the cool crowd.