Sunday, October 12, 2008

Old pals act

Does anyone still look at Friend Reunited? I was on it recently and it's very rare anyone new that you know pops up now. Despite ITV's shameless promotion around reunion-themed programmes, I'm sure it's pretty much peaked. But I'm frustated that people I'm really interested in have never surfaced.

I remember when I first discovered it about seven years ago. I was obsessed.

I've always had an odd relationship with old school friends. Sixth form was fine and I still see or at least keep in touch with a few people. But secondary school was a different matter. When I left it didn't occur to me that I might need to gather addresses and phone numbers - I grew up with these people and saw them around. Then I went off to be a boarder, the family moved abroad, and I lost touch with everyone. I wasn't bothered. I'd made new friends,and as time went by I felt I'd become superior to my old pals and moved on. I had no desire to see any of them. Almost overnight I lost touch with everyone from past. It was another country. I erased that part of my past from my life. If I did see someone by chance, I hid. Any phone calls were fielded and the person swiftly dispatched from my life forever. I didn't want these smalltown dullards in my life. I had better friends. In London!

But as the years went by I got to thinking - I wonder what so and so's doing now? I was desperate to know. My attitude mellowed and I became horrified at my snobbery. Then a new girl started at work who was at my old school and it all came flooding back. We talked a lot about it and I exorcised a lot of demons. I realised I'd been daft and wanted to link up with all my old friends. So when I discovered Friends Reunited it was like a dream come true. I was thrilled. And I was ready to go back. I was obsessed. I was never off it. I got in touch with loads of old mates, met up with some too. But of course once you've had an evening of catching up, your curiosity is satisfied. Do you want to see this person again? Well, no. But at least I am sated.

Of course, when you get people emailing you in the third person about how their divorce was their fault and could they come and stay with you, it's time to back off.

So the fever has subsided for us all it seems. But I still look once a month, just in case. Where are the ones who are not on the list? For years now, I've known that the class bad girl runs a successful hotel on the isle of Mull, and that Ally Sheedyish clever girl whom I always secretly fancied lives by the beach in Thailand, while someone I went on a skiing holiday with in 1981 is chief sommelier at that hotel in Dubai that's shaped like a sail. I know that my best friend 1977-79 runs a farm in Australia. There are countless IT consultants and doctors receptionists of course. I like to think I have the most interesting job of all. But I want new information on old friends I've not seen for coming up 30 years. I still don't know where half the class is or what they're doing. Are you still alive? You must have heard of the site, so why aren't you on it? Or perhaps you look but like to keep your distance.

I'll keeping looking until my curiosity is satisfied. But this whole concept is now nothing new. I may find what I'm looking for.


Sky Clearbrook said...

I signed up in 2001 for Friends Reunited and ended up corresponding with only a very few people I liked from school.

I think that a big part people cooling towards it was the £5 annual fee required to contact people. As time wore on, with many people using things like Facebook, FR started to look incredibly dated.

I went back for a wee look recently and I note that they've now made it completely free. So maybe that'll entice some of those enigmatic ones out of the woodwork.

Ishouldbeworking said...

I've been on FR for about five years, and like you I look at it once a month or so. It has a simple, straightforward quality to it that I still quite like. I've only had positive experiences from it (one of them being that it allowed me to apologise to my BF from school, twenty-odd years after I dumped her to go round with the Cool Girl. She was incredibly gracious about it). Quite a few people who have eschewed the gaudier 'charms' of MySpace and Facebook do seem to have stuck with FR.

I hated the school I went to, and deliberately cut all ties with it the day I left (taking the bell from the assembly hall with me, I can now safely reveal.). In retrospect I threw a few nice babies out with that bathwater, so FR gave me a bit of a second chance. I'm oddly well-disposed towards it.

Planet Mondo said...

I joined in 2001 and was a terror for it at first I've been to a couple of school reunions organised through it since. But it tends to be the same story from half of them "got two kids, but divorced ".

Half the people I wanted to meet never go, and it seems to be mostly all the 'stiffs' who never really had a tear-up at school or those who are still in touch with each other outside of 'FRU'. I'll still go if they do another one though

But I only check once every few months now.

On a different level it was instrumental in changing my life , but I won't say on the blog.

Clair said...

Am I weird? (Don't answer that...) But whilst of course I'm curious as to what people are up to, I have absolutely no desire to meet up with people I am no longer in touch with from thirty or so years ago. I'm sure a lot of them are very nice, but there must have been a reason why we're not friends any more. I have re-established contact with a good friend from college through my blog, which has been nothing but good, but a whole raft of them? No thank YOU!

Bright Ambassador said...

I don't want to meet any of the people I went to school with.

I used FR to look for a girl I got completely messed up about in 1993 (she treated me awfully, but hey-ho), and found, to my horror, that the bloke she dumped me for was the father of her two kids. Still, at least I can comfort myself with the fact I got dumped for a bloke she dedicated her life to. I then looked at his profile and came away thinking that he sounded like a complete c**t, he sounded like the cat that got the cream.

It also reminds you that somehow you haven't lived a full life. Most of them are on their second marriage and second clutch of kids. I'm still waiting for my first marriage!

Perhaps it's useful for a lot of people, but not for me.

office pest said...

Well I've thought about this a bit and I reckon that of the people I know on either Friends or LinkedIn (I'm too old to be arsed for the others), actually I'm too lazy for any of them. Still, I think if most of the people I do know are telling a big pack of lies (I know they are you see), what about the some of the others? Must be fronting too. And the ones that aren't showing off are giving away so little it's hardly worth anyone's bother to write it or read it. No wonder the rest stay away. I am curious about the ones who aren't on there though, so this obviously calls for a new website to attract them: InfoForNoseyBastardsNoContactsThough or something. 'Stop me if I'm wrong', as my old head teacher used to say. As if anyone would have.

Sarah said...

they're all on facebook, mate! x