The ‘schooldays chapter’ was a funny old part of my life. While on the one-hand, they were carefree days – when all I needed to worry about was whether I had my £2 for lunch at ‘the top shops’ (yes, genuinely, you could get a whole lunch for £2… especially when you lived on Rice Crispy cakes from the bakery) – they also felt like the most stressful too – all that peer pressure and power-struggling. Yuk.
I remember being a curious mixture of ‘mildy horrified’ and ‘kind of excited’ when I heard about a new thing called Friends Reunited back in the early noughties. Could I reconnect with old friends I no longer saw? Could I see how people had fared since leaving school?
In some cases, the answer was right in front of me… I was only at college when the site launched (I’m not that old!), but I remember typing in my details and feeling that intoxicating blend of fear and excitement churning around in my stomach. What would I find?
Well, very little in my case… Those were the days of FaceParty, and actually, the days when kids spoke to each other face-to-face, rather than via various kinds of pout pics on Instagram and SnapChat (well, we did have MSN Messenger and text messages). I don’t think my generation – the one that was actually still united during the year Friends Reunited’s was created – was the target market, but nonetheless, I signed up.
So, I felt a flicker of sadness when last week’s email hit my inbox – from Friends Reunited themselves to confirm that the platform is closing down. I was, after all, one of those who endured the sound of my dial up internet, and typed Friends Reunited into my AltaVista search engine (I don’t think Google was around then…) to get signed up.
The demise of Friends Reunited has, in no small part, been owed to the birth of Facebook. Once a great pretender, Facebook quickly grew to become a global phenomenon, and even more recent additions to the social media scene – platforms like Twitter and Instagram – have failed to gain the same mass appeal as Facebook. It remains the number one social media platform – and not only does it reunite friends, it does a whole lot more too! It’s no great surprise then, that Friends Reunited – which at its peak boasted more than 15 million members – fell by the wayside.
Just like in life, as we move through different chapters, times change… I don’t think my £2 would go quite so far anymore, I don’t think I would still have that crush on the then-curtain haired boy I sat near in English, and I don’t think I’d have Rice Crispy cake for lunch… Oh, actually, some things never change! But one thing we can be sure that will, is social media… Let’s watch this space!