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Social Media as Time Transporter

Thirty-one years ago, the housemate with whom I’d found an apartment moved out, and I invited a poet friend of mine to take his place. We shared that apartment for several months, until he, too, moved on, and another friend moved in. Last weekend, I went to see that poet friend for the first time since around 1980. We’d been completely out of touch–but about a year ago, a mutual friend tracked my wife down on Facebook. Turns out that mutual friend also convinced my old housemate to join Facebook, where we found each other a month or so ago.

Thirty-one years ago, the housemate with whom I’d found an apartment
moved out, and I invited a poet friend of mine to take his place. We
shared that apartment for several months, until he, too, moved on, and
another friend moved in.

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Last weekend, I went to see that poet friend for the first time since
around 1980. We’d been completely out of touch–but about a year ago, a
mutual friend tracked my wife down on Facebook. Turns out that mutual
friend also convinced my old housemate to join Facebook, where we found
each other a month or so ago.

The friend who moved in after him stayed in that apartment after I left, but later moved to Vesey Street, two blocks from the World Trade Center. It was a primitive form of social media that let me know, finally, that she was OK, two weeks after 9/11.

And there are a number of others.

I remember very clearly the first time something like this happened:
AOL was still my Internet portal, so that fixes it somewhere in
1994-95. All of a sudden I got an e-mail from a high school friend. Tom
and his wife Liz came up to visit (we live four hours apart), attended
my wife’s book party in New York, and have generally reentered our
lives. As have Lew and Katherine, the friends who connected us with my
old housemate. A few months ago, they moved up from New Jersey to two
towns away from us in Massachusetts; we hadn’t seen them since a
falling-out somewhere around 1989. Now, we’ve seen them several times.
In fact, we’re saw them the day after we went to see David.

Oddly enough, when I’ve searched for old friends, I haven’t had much luck finding them. But quite a few have found me.

I’ve forged or deepened many connections via e-mail, Facebook,
Twitter, and other communities with people I hadn’t known before–but
those reconnections from 20 or 30 years in the past are particularly
special.

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(A slightly different version of this article was published on Technorati under the title Technology Helps Me Cross Time Tunnels to the Distant Past.)

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