The Irascible ProfessorSM

Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro
"Having just spent another morning of my life reading the most boring details of other people's mornings, I've realized how very little things like Twitter, FaceBook, or FriendFeed actually contribute to one's life: it's more like sitting in a room full of over-caffeinated narcissistic Tourette's patients with ADHD who are all trying to be the most entertaining.  And, really, what's so social about a monologue?"...  ...Katherine Berry.

Commentary of the Day - February 25, 2009: Social Networking for Dummies.   Guest Commentary by Felice Prager.

As a preface, please note that I have changed the names of all people and websites in this essay because life is too short and mine is getting shorter by the second.

About a year ago, my friend, Isadora, suggested I sign up at the social network site, WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College.  She gave me a variety of reasons, but primarily its networking potential, as reasons for joining.  I signed up (for free) and added a mini-biography that included my website, my blog, my photo, and contact information.  Then reality hit, as it always tends to do after I have a questionable project completed.  Reality: I have never been a member in good standing of anything.  So, why all of a sudden would WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College mean anything to me?  With that, I deleted my information and made information private that I was unable to delete so no one could see it, and I did not return to WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College…until last month.

Last month, an old friend, Esmerelda, suggested joining WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College.  I told her I had an account already but I saw no reason to use it.  That's when Esmerelda said, "Wait until you see what people look like?  Those guys who we liked because of their long hair-- the ones who broke our hearts…..bald!  And some of them are still cute anyway!"  She said she was actually having fun meeting up and chatting with friends from the old days.  Both of us are old (happily) married broads, but we're not dead.  Since there was still a touch of that teenaged witch within me, I decided to try it again.  Esmerelda also suggested I add my maiden name to my profile to make me more recognizable.

It took 24 hours for the activity to begin.  Then, more and more people on WJHIHS&C requested joining my list of connections.  The first few I knew because I had been in contact with them over the years -- and I had sent emails to them announcing that I was part of WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College.  Then, several writers who I have come to know online and in person joined my list.  Then, I started receiving friendship requests from other familiar names with little notes asking me if I used to be who I used to be.  Talk about blasts from the past!  For a person who lives a somewhat isolated existence because of my current chosen profession as a writer, I was getting emails from people I had not seen in over thirty years.  I felt popular!  I felt wanted!  I felt loved!  And I was having fun.

From this experience, I developed a list of what I have learned about high school, college, and myself by joining WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College that I will share it with you:

  1. High School, for most people, becomes a blur after thirty-plus years and very few people remember that embarrassing situation you endured in eleventh grade.  They barely remember your name.
  1. Jealousy can diminish with age.  As an adult, you can view other people's success with happiness for them.  Perhaps that's because you have learned that most lives are not perfect-- even if they seem that way on the surface.  And if they are ;; how wonderful for them.
  1. That high school French teacher you had second period in your freshman year -- the one who made you write a ten-page term paper IN FRENCH and took points off your paper for incorrectly conjugating verbs -- did not die that awful death you wished upon her.  In fact, she is living in a retirement in South Jersey, really hated teaching French, and is quite nice.
  1. Everyone gets wrinkles-- some more than others.  Some handle them much better than others do.  Same thing goes with hair loss. Some guys who were real cuties -- aren’t anymore.  Some who weren't cuties-- are.  And just about everyone could lose a few pounds.  Look in the mirror.  Are you still a trophy?
  1. The most likely to succeed did not necessarily do that.  And the least likely to succeed might actually have been the most likely to succeed.
  1. Maturity is not a given, but sooner or later, most people grow up.  Some do it with less angst than others, however.
  1. In high school, people may not have been jerks or snobs or this or that.  It just may have been their way of coping through rough times, insecurity, or whatever their life was like way back when.
  1. Not all of those rumors were true, but some were-- and who cares anyway.
  1. Getting to know people a second time around is very fulfilling and can be fun, given the timing, the openness of the person, and the willingness of people to let the past stay in the past.
  1. Be careful what you tell people at WhoJaHateInHighSchool&College or other networking sites -- especially if they are writers.  You might find yourself (anonymously) mentioned in a well-intended essay.

2009, Felice Prager.
Felice Prager is a freelance writer and former English teacher from Arizona.  She publishes the Write Funny pages.

The IP comments: The IP must admit that he frequents one of the same social network sites as Felice.  He is still trying to find out exactly what good it is.  But, it is a refreshing diversion from all the bad news on the tube.

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