I turned 21 recently and while that number has very much sealed the fact that I am an adult now, it was something else that made me feel like I was growing old. I’ve been organising coffee dates and catch-ups with “old” friends.
When I graduated from high school, I cut almost all ties with my friends from there. It wasn’t a totally intentional thing; I had already started hanging out with a new crowd in year 12 and once school finished and there was no longer any forced interaction, my old friendships soon turned into seeing each other at birthdays and Uni maybe four times a year. I haven’t seen, or even talked with three of my closest friends from high school on the phone or over Facebook ‘chat’ even once since we graduated. While that does make me a little sad, I have no desire to rekindle those relationships so I never bothered to try and catch up with them.
This all began with the one friend from school (primary school, in fact) who I have maintained a proper friendship with when he suggested we bring our old crew together, minus the friend that he never really got along with. In the end, it was nice to see these friends again, to reminisce about old times and find out what has happened to them in the years since we knew each other. Now I have plans to get coffee with another high school friend, one I have only seen at a funeral since then.
While I know I will enjoy seeing them again, there is a significant part of me that just doesn’t care and I think I have figured out why. Thanks to Facebook, I don’t need to see this person to find out what they have been doing for the past few years. With a couple of clicks and a few minutes of scrolling, I could pretty much see their entire history without the anxiety and stress of a potentially very awkward man-date. It is for similar reasons that I don’t really use my own Facebook all that much; I would kind of prefer it if most people can’t learn so much about me with just a flick of the wrist.
Don’t get me wrong though because these relationships do mean a lot to me, even if it is just as memories. I also don’t want to argue that it’s just a product of this digital age and that face-to-face interaction is outdated and unnecessary because I think that’s ridiculous (looking at you stereotypical teenagers that may only exist in film and television).
Most likely, it’s just a combination of my minor social anxiety and the fact that I have as many bad memories as good of my high school days and I wouldn’t mind most of them sitting quietly in my mind, rather than being discussed openly, that makes this singular aspect of aging quite discomforting for me.
And dear god, next year will be our actual high school reunion…
Words by Solomon T Braun