Friday, May 04, 2007

The Failure

One of the advantages of being an early-on computer geek was catching the crest of the email wave. Combine this with a 30th high school class reunion in the mid '90s and I had the potential to virtually reconstruct our class that was by that time scattered over the world.

The limitations included finding an initial contact method for those whose locations were known, along with the time constraint for classmates having a computer and an email address.

As each was added to the group, there was the potential that they knew the whereabouts of someone who was "missing". The idea was, when each person wrote an email, everyone in the group was copied, to create a kind of electronic round robin correspondence that I designated Elogs.

It was fantastic during those early years because, as each person contributed, they related their high school experiences and told about their families. That triggered discussions from others. It was very exciting in those early days of electronic communication. I worked very hard to get the group to this point.

By the turn of the millennium, we had collected email addresses for about 90 classmates out of somewhere round 475 graduates. That's really not bad after all these years. Our chatter, information exchange, and newly developed friendships enhanced our meeting at our 35th reunion.

Being the aforementioned geek, I never felt part of the high school "in crowd". I learned there were many in our group who felt like outsiders during those formative years. So, I thought the email group was a fantastic equalizer that allowed us all to start over. Be mature. Be friends without the clicks. What a great experiment this see if everyone would remain friends even if they weren't in high school.

The general rule was that anyone could express their opinions as long as they made no personal attacks against someone else. Unfortunately, topics of religion and politics evolved into heated debates and name calling among a handful of participants. Rather than moving their arguments to side discussions, their public conflicts caused several classmates to drop out of the group and created hard feelings between others.

On the flip-side of the over analyzers were the listeners...the non-participants. Without their contributions of new topics and information, conversation became stale. Some were shy and the conflicts gave them reason to withdraw further.

The result of the angst is that, now, rarely does anyone address the whole group for conversation, and if someone does, responses are not sent to all...just returned to the sender. Many small groups have now's clicks.

So after 10 years of trial, we have come full circle, back to the immaturity of high school. My hope of friendship that included everyone is dashed. My experiment a failure.

1 comment:

Sara said...

no way...I'll start something...give me a few days and I'll post an email. I rather enjoyed the heated debates and wish that some people would have been a little more thick skinned...we'd still be chatting.