Thursday, May 19, 2011

Using Facebook to re-unite (and re-ignite!) a bunch of 50-year-olds

Please accept my apology for unanswered e-mail, incomplete work, uncooked meals, and insufficient personal attention. 

I’ve been hanging out on Facebook with about 270 old (and new) friends from the neighborhood in Berkeley, California where I spent the first 13 years of my life in the late 50’s and throughout the 60’s.  Using new technology, we old fogies have been reminiscing memories, re-connecting with friends and, oddly enough, even healing a few old wounds.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but this blog post has been blamed by some in the group for instigating what can only be described as a “Facebook firestorm,” where thousands upon thousands of posts have occurred over just a few days.

Here’s a very small sampling of some of our shared memories:







Post after post (which are appearing on the board at a break-neck pace), old memories are pondered and old friendships are rekindled, and none of us can get enough of it!


Get to work


Bringing old memories and new technology together, a collaborative Google map has even been created! 


Each of those hundreds of blue balloons represents a location where a memory was formed, a home with family members indicated, or something else that stirred emotions and memories for someone in the group.  It’s gone from a blank slate to a virtual “neighborhood clubhouse meeting” after four and five decades, and it’s now absolutely priceless.

I’ve written numerous posts on this blog that mentioned what it was like to grow up in Berkeley in the 60s (here and here and here, and more can be found via a search for “Berkeley”), but what’s happening now on Facebook is much more personal than politics and geography.  What’s happening now has to do with history of the most personal nature – the history of ourselves, the history of our friendships, the history of our memories, and the history of our hearts.  

What’s happening now is a catharsis of sorts for some of us. 

This post elicited silent tears as I sat in front of my laptop…


I stared at my screen after this was posted, wondering if finally now I could let my friends know what was going on in my heart and head back then and how it impacted my life and my friendships.  I could have never divulged this when I was ten, but it flowed out of me and into the comment box:

Wanted like yours goosebumps reply

I wanted so badly to fit in, really fit in, to this wonderful neighborhood filled with what seemed to be Leave-It-to-Beaver-wholesome American families, and I went to great lengths to look like I fit in, but inside I always felt different because my parents were European and because they made absolutely no effort to become an integral part of the neighborhood and welcome neighborhood kids into our home like the other parents welcomed kids into theirs.  Whereas other families’ doors were always open, the doors at my home seemed to be forever closed to anyone but our family.  This memory and this emotion is what fueled my passionate commitment as a parent to always welcome my kids’ friends into our home and to be deeply involved in their lives as they grew up.

This post, too, caught me off-guard and elicited a deeply emotional, revealing, and cathartic reply from me.


I was a Tiger Scout leader, a Boy Scout leader, a Daisy Scout leader, and a Brownie Scout leader as my own children grew up.  Guess why…

Perhaps this post most beautifully sums up what it was like to grow up in Berkeley in the 60’s:


If I don’t blog for a few days, you now know why. I’m time-traveling these days. I’ll be back, but it might be a while.

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1 comment:

Goofball said...

I can totally see why this group is addictive & healing & emotional! enjoy

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