COMMENTARY: Facebook Brings Back People

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

A little over 30 years ago, sometime in my mid-twenties, I moved away from the town I went to junior high and high school in, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and have not returned there since. 

Work first led me to Alabama for a short time, then to Cookeville, then to Murfreesboro for a few decades, and finally to Cannon County.

If all goes well, and I am fortunate, Cannon County will be the last destination on my journey through life and eventually my final resting place. Hopefully that too is a few decades off.

One day recently, don’t really know why, I was on Facebook and decided to try and find some of the people I knew, either as friends or schoolmates, during my teenage and early adult years.

Perhaps it was because of a realization I had not too long ago that most of the people who knew me during those years, and even younger in life, are no longer around. Parents, grandparents, and most aunts and uncles are deceased. So are two older brothers. I’m the oldest living member of my immediate family.

Several of my closest friends and work associates from those days are also no longer with us.

The first thing I did when trying to locate old friends was to simply type their names in the Facebook search field and see what happened. That didn’t prove too successful, in that most people have names identical or similar to a lot of other people.

I next decided to see if there was a Facebook page for Oak Ridge High School. There was, along with pages and links to several ORHS alumni groups.

One of the pages was for the Classes of 1974, 1975 and 1976. I graduated in ’74. Visiting that page, I learned that there was a reunion held late last year for those classes. Unfortunately I was unaware of it taking place, as I haven’t kept up much with people from that period of my life.

I found a page of pictures from the reunion. I recognized several of the names, but not so many of the faces. People, including myself, change a lot in 35-plus years when it comes to looks and appearance.

However, it was nice to see the names and faces of several people I did remember, and haven’t thought of in years. Oak Ridge was back then, and still is, one of the larger high schools in the state, with upwards of 2,000 students, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that many were either unrecognizable or that, in my advanced years, I have forgotten many of them.

Browsing through the reunion pictures and pages did have its downside though. There was one link which went to an “In Memoriam” page featuring persons who had died, some during high school in tragic accidents, some during the years in-between, and several recently.

I have been slow to catch onto Facebook, and don’t see myself using it a lot, mainly because I’ve never been much for telling people what I’ve done, what I’m doing, or what I plan on doing. But in this case it brought some people back into my life I thought I’d lost touch with forever, along with some fond memories of a past that in one respect seems long ago, in another as though it were only yesterday.