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Why Facebook Is Like High School All Over Again


I believe that no matter where you go, what you achieve, how much money you make, the type of people you hang with or the car you drive this much is certain – you never truly get out of high school.

I think it’s because high school is such an intense time of growth and learning, personally and otherwise, that those things we feel and experience are indelibly inked on our psyche. And now, in case there weren’t enough humiliating, sand-kicked-in-your-face, people-talking-behind-your-back moments, we now have Facebook.

I graduated from Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California almost 30 years ago. In the four years I went there, I desperately wanted to be a cheerleader but two things stood in my way. I was about as flexible as a two by four with the chest to match and I was undeniably a geek of the highest order. But there was one part of the cheer squad, just right for someone with my anemic physique and social standing – the flag team. Not the mini, cute ones, waved by even cuter girls with Farrah Fawcett hair. No these were the big, unwieldy poles with the fluttering flag on the end. But the odds were good for me because there were seven spots and only eight girls trying out. Surely I could snag one of those, right? WRONG! The one and only hopeful to get cut was, well, you guessed it, me!

So I focused on the things I was good at, which happened to be track and field. (Yep that’s me!)

I went to the state meet in the high jump and I ran down my fair share of opponents in the 100-meter hurdles. During track season, I had a taste of what it was like to be part of the “in” crowd where people knew your name in the hallway and wanted you to sit with them at lunchtime. It was a heady time, those couple of months in spring, but when track season was over, I went back to being one of the nameless, pimply-faced youngsters stressed as every part of me grew, except the parts I wanted (see above) and sitting home alone on Friday and Saturday nights. I can count on two fingers of one hand, the number of dances I went to.

Fast-forward 30 years to today or more accurately, a few days ago. Facebook as you know, has implemented these “groups”; they say it’s a reflection of the way we live our lives that like-minded people gather and share the same interests and likes. But there are two flaws to this. Because of technology, our circles are wider now. Instead of organically gravitating toward people with whom you naturally share interests you become “friends” with people who are “friends” of your “friends”. Confusing? Yeah. But truly the part that sends me into orbit is the fact that you can be added to people’s groups without your approval. They don’t ask if you’d like to join; they simply tap you on the shoulder (notification via email) and voila! You’re part of the “in-crowd”. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s like track season all over again.

Those of you who know me know that I have an independent streak a mile long and as wide as the Mississippi; don’t tell me what to do, who to like, what to wear and for Heaven’s sake you’d better not corner me. I have a temper and have been known to cut people off with swift precision. As you can see, I’ve made up for lost time since high school.

When I started getting added to groups I was incensed. I was so pissed I even started my own group, “Don’t Add Rene Syler To Your Group Without Her Permission” and threatened to un-friend anyone who corralled me into their group. Well, a day or so ago, I got added to a group. Why I didn’t remove myself immediately still baffles me. Around the same time I was experimenting with this new TweetDeck in which you can update all your social media simultaneously, perfect for someone like me who’s brand building on a budget. So, as is my job, I wrote and promoted to everyone, including my new “friends”. Then yesterday afternoon, one of my posts wouldn’t go through. The message read, “You are not a member of this group.” After a bit of detective work, I was able to figure out I had been ‘kicked out” of the group. You know, the one I had been added to against my will in the first place.

I am a grown woman, with kids of my own who thought I had exorcised the demons of the Del Campo High School flag team debacle. I guess not because confident, strong, take-no-prisoners Rene, was back to being flat chested, dateless and unpopular, all with one, swift keystroke. Being kicked out wasn’t as much a kick in the teeth as having to find out on my own. No one emailed to say either seriously or in jest, “Hey turn that part of your TweetDeck off” or “ We love you but really?” or “Knock it off!”  Suddenly it was the day after track season and my newfound social circle slammed shut faster than the waters of The Red Sea after the Israelites had scrambled to the safety of other side.

I finally did get official notification about why I’d been kicked out of the group I never asked to join in the first place and the truly head-scratching part was why no one said anything before, what I like to call, the direct approach. Of course you know the answer, because we never, really get out of high school. I laugh about it now but truth be told I was 14-year-old Rene, charter and founding member of the “itty-bitty-titty-Committee, dealing with the pangs of unpopularity once again.

That high school experience, like every other thing we go through in life, taught me many things, among them, how to find my voice and use it. It’s what I do on and in real life. It helped me develop an attitude of “I-don’t-care” and what powers me to say this…



Have you ever had a moment that transported you right back to high school? What was it and how did you handle it? And what drives you crazy when it comes to Facebook etiquette?


  1. Smarty P. Jones

    January 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I have daily moments that transport me back to high school. I think everyone does. I like to say that people grow old, they never grow up.

    High school was all about cliques and trying to find the one you fit into, well, adulthood has been the same way for me. Because I am a journalist, I sort of have a leg up. This job has built in socializing disguised as networking.

    Facebook is just another way for the people who tortured you in high school to come back and do it. Thankfully, Facebook gives me the one thing that would have made my life easier in high school – an “Ignore” button.

    I wish I lived in Facebook.

  2. juli

    January 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Oh those were the days. :/ is right.
    I’ve always been better at expressing myself with the written word, so facebook is great that way.
    I am really particular about who I friend. I have to have had some interaction with them if I haven’t physically met them. And those groups? Well either I’m as popular as I was in high school, or none of my friends do the group thing.
    Btw Rene, I thought you were one of the cool kids in school. Funny how we view ourselves.

  3. Rich

    January 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Yep but what I love is when you go on Facebook and see the people you didn’t like in high school and now they’re overweight, balding, kind of rough looking!

    And you can do Facebook hit and runs!

    I friend-ed one guy who was awful to me at school, when he accepted my request I checked out his info (not exactly inspiring), messaged him about how fabulous and happy I was, and then un-friended him

    Very childish – but it felt good!

  4. Ant Linda

    January 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    OMG ,, you do speak the truth !! You know what else I can’t take in general the DRAMA ,,, I just keep saying did these queens major in Drama . Hubby told me that its because you do not see them face to face thats why so much drama !

  5. Nikki Newman

    January 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Oh my goodness, Rene, I have recently had a rather prolonged flashback to high school via the world of expat social circles :-S and facebook also played a part in my feeling like that lanky, smiley, quiet-voiced, happy-go-lucky-so-why-do-the-nasty-girls-want-to-give-me-sh*t- Nikki once again. I love that you use your voice as you do. It’s inspiring and on a practical level, very useful too! Life survival, Rene style! Thank you. Oh and Rich, that story is pure gold 🙂 x

  6. Auntie Lisa

    January 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I never even heard of the Groups until you wrote about it. Shows you how popular I am! haha

    Truly, I spent most of my adult life being transported back to high school in the form of rejection by the opposite gender. It would make me very sad, and then I’d pray, “buck up” and distract myself with some other part of my life.

    I am now happily married, so it no longer matters even the tiniest bit! 🙂

  7. SusanDevey

    January 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Love the article Rene! I so know where you’re coming from. If I had a penny for the number of times I’ve walked into a room, felt the occupiers go quiet, and then spent the rest of the day in a state of paranoia, carefully trying to figure out if I really was the subject of the interrupted conversation…well, you know the rest! Age and experience doesn’t necessarily equate to rational thinking…luckily I have some very sensible friends who know how to put me right. 🙂
    And btw…56 FB friends and proud of it!

  8. Irene

    January 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm


  9. Pam R

    February 1, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Recently a group was created on FB for the high school I went to. For a moment it was nice to cathc up and see what people are up to and talk about the “old” days. Then “it” happened…one of the girls I went to high school with asked a question that flashed me right back to uncomfortable moments in high school. She wanted to know who you couldn’t stand in high school! I was like Oh Crap…I knew she was starting something, so I kepted quiet and decided not to participate because things like that never lead to anywhere I want to be. Of course what I said would happen did happen and people were offended. I think that FB is what we make it. I hear people all the time talking about how FB ruined thier lives or got something started…what I have to say to them is STOP PUTTING YOUR BIZZNESS OUT IF YOU DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO COMMENT!!!! I had to call my girlfriend who was going thru a divorce and tell her that very thing. She was airing her dirty laundry and I just felt like she was going the wrong way with it. She ultimately stopped bashing her soon to be ex-husband on FB and kept it to a minimum about her most private events happening in her life.

  10. M.E. Johnson

    February 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I don’t know what alternate world I grew up in but I never went thru any of that. I went to a high school for ‘smart’ kids. Out of 3,000, there were 25 Negroes, so we stuck together and had plenty fun. Any hangups I have/had come from other areas of my life.

    Not familiar with the f.b. group thing. F.B. serves me perfectly.

  11. Andi@IMOblog

    February 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I didn’t go to my HS Reunion but got to see all the pictures on FB. I feel like FB is a mini-reunion and I don’t feel I ‘missed’ anything by not being at the actual party.

  12. Mike W.

    February 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I despise how FB forces changes on members (new profile, the group thing, etc.) but I can’t pull myself off of the damn thing!

  13. VictorHM

    February 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

    For the record, Rene, I would have tried to date you if we were in high school. Your 2×4 dimensions would have been just fine with me. OTOH, my dorky personality probably would have driven you nuts.

    As for high school relations, give it another 10 years and a lot of your schoolmates will realize how petty and insignificant many of the things that happened back then were, compared to the onset of adulthood, family, and loss.

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