Dewey or Don’t We?

On Christmas Eve 2008, there were just three of us working in the office.

Well, technically, there was one of us working, the other two were there. A couple of the young ladies on staff either didn’t have enough vacation time built up or they were saving it for another day. Either way, the three of us were in the office the day before Christmas.

These two ladies had tried repeatedly to get me to join up on this new thing called, “Facebook.” I’ve always been one whose plate is too full, so I wasn’t interested in adding anything else, much less anything else that appeared to have no benefit.

They giggled on their way down the hallway toward my door and then poked their heads around the corner.

“We created you a Facebook account,” one of them said. “You have 10 minutes to log in and change the password or we’ll start posting on it and make it look like you’re doing it,” the other one said.

Obviously, the security for creating a Facebook account was lax in the beginning.

So, as they giggled their way back down the hallway, I logged in and changed the password. As I was about to close it up and go back to work, it showed I had a message.

Thinking it was likely some new, “Hey, welcome to Facebook!” kind of message, I almost didn’t look at it. But I did.

“Glad to see you on here. Haven’t talked with you in years,” said a high school classmate. They were right. Graduation night some 30 years prior was likely the last time we’d spoken.

Honestly, I had no idea where they’d been or if they were still alive.

Between the time we’d graduated high school and the almost three decades since, you could actually lose track of people. Now, in an instant, if you chose to participate in some of the then-new technology, they could find you, and you could find them.

It was a bit surreal.

Growing up in the schools of Ashdown, Arkansas, my classmates and I had a fairly idyllic upbringing. We lived in a clean and safe community. But more importantly, there was no social media to document all of the stuff we shouldn’t have been doing.

In 2008, the Internet was still somewhat in its infancy. The slow sound of AOL was how many connected to the World Wide Web. Snooping on and tracking people wasn’t that common. Yet.

I remember one discussion about going to the high school library and using the Dewey Decimal System to find the books we needed to check out to use to write our research papers.

Which were written on a typewriter. A manual typewriter. That we had to borrow from the typing class when no one else was using it.

There was a lot of reminiscing of sitting on the hoods of our Cutlasses, Firebirds, Camaros, and Thunderbirds, with our backs against the windshields and our eyes on the stars. Someone’s 8-track blared the first Boston album or Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon,” while we may or may not have sipped on illicit adult beverages.

We’d ask what had happened to one classmate or the other that couldn’t be found on this new thing called social media. We speculated on where they’d wound up in life. Was it where we thought, or had they gone in other directions?

There was a lot of talk about how we’d planned for one thing, but life took us another way. John Lennon had warned us that, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

We talked about where we were when we heard that someone had killed one of the Beatles. How senseless it was and what we were denied musically. John was taken so young. Some members of our class were as well.

During the early days of social media, many of the conversations between myself and my fellow graduates centered on the carefree life we’d enjoyed. How we’d gotten away with this or that. How we were grateful that we had. And how there’d been no social media to document any of it.

Today, privacy has become a thing of the past.

If you’re in school now and want to sit on the hood of your car, lean against the windshield, stare at the stars and listen to music with your friends in a pasture somewhere, leave your electronic devices and social media somewhere else.

It’s the only way you’ll be able to have discussions later about what you got away with today.


©2024 John Moore

John’s books, Puns for Groan People and Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website, where you can also send him a message.

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