A nostalgic memory

We made a decision to go with FaceBook for our worship livestream very quickly. The decision to suspend in-person worship was made on a Tuesday and we didn’t even own a livestream camera at the time. Members began to request that we livestream on FaceBook and it was Saturday before I realized that we didn’t have the technology or skill to stream on multiple platforms at once. Since we had received the most requests to go to FaceBook that is the direction we went. Our videos are then posted on YouTube and our church website, but you can’t watch them live on those formats.

As a result I’ve been spending a lot more time looking at FaceBook than ever before. And I have been expanding the number of FaceBook friends at a pretty good rate. Mostly I’m trying to monitor what my colleagues are doing so that I can get fresh ideas for our congregation and how we might continue to maintain connections and support for people. Along the way, however, I’ve seen a lot of other posts. Some of those posts amuse me, slightly. Some make me wonder how much people are thinking when they participate in FaceBook.

I roll my eyes at all of the “surveys.” There are a bunch of lists of questions that users are supposed to answer. Many of them circulate a bit like the old chain letters, saying, “fill this out and pass it on to ten of your friends.” I doubt if those who are answering those questions think the way I do, but I’m suspicious of all of those quizzes. The first and most obvious of my suspicions has to do with the actual questions. If I were trying to hack someone’s account, I would be looking for the answers to security questions. And security questions are often things like “the name of your first pet,” so putting that question on a quiz is an easy way to get the information. Sophisticated firms like Cambridge Analytics employ complex algorithms to target advertising at individuals. During the 2016 election their techniques were employed by campaigners to distribute false information in attempts to influence the outcome of the election. There is a lot of nefarious manipulation going on with the FaceBook platform and I think part of it is enabled by the gullibility of many users.

One thing that is going around FaceBook is supposed to be a tribute to high school seniors who are coming to the end of their high school years but won’t be able to have a graduation ceremony this year. For some reason, people have gotten into posting their high school pictures as a way of offering a tribute. I’m not quite sure how a bunch of old high school graduation pictures is a tribute, but I can see how people would think it is fun to look at their friends’ pictures. Putting aside the fact that “What year did you graduate from High School?” and “What was your High School Mascot?” are often used as security questions, my other reaction to the phenomena is the simple fact that I didn’t graduate from high school. Unlike the class of 2020, who I suspect do have graduation pictures, just not a ceremony, I don’t belong to any class. I left high school following my junior year. When they have class reunions in my high school, I don’t even know which class is mine.

So, being more cautious about FaceBook than some, I am offering a bit of nostalgia in this format for my journal entry today.

I can’t remember the exact date, but 50 years ago this April, I invited a girl to go to the prom with me. I hadn’t planned on attending the prom. I thought that most of the high school social life was pretty much silliness, but somehow I got asked to be on the prom committee. I think it was because I had made quite a few posters and I was a willing worker. At any rate, my friends started to ask me who I was inviting to the prom. I had no idea. I wasn’t interested in any of the girls in my class and besides prom couples had been lined up months inn advance of the prom.

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There was, however, a girl I was interested in getting to know. I had met her at church camp when I was eleven, and quite frankly I wasn’t very impressed. However, the fall of my junior year of high school I attended a church youth rally in a town 40 miles from ours and she was there. Somehow in the intervening years, she had become a lot more interesting and I really enjoyed talking to her at that event. I wound up my courage and called her on the telephone. I invited her to our prom. It would mean that we had to work out transportation for her to come the 80 miles to our town on the day of the prom and a ride back home the next day. Those details worked out, we were set for a date. I checked with my classmates and secured an invitation to a post-prom dinner, arranged to borrow our family car and my folks sprung for a new suit to wear for the prom and for upcoming events.

It turned out to be a good thing. I don’t remember much about the prom at all. We sat at a table most of the time and only danced a few of the dances. I wasn’t very confident about dancing and she was a bit taller than I, but talking with her was certainly fascinating.

There is a lot more to the story, much of which I don’t want to post on the Internet, but in a couple of months we will have been married 47 years. Our first date turned into something that we both wanted to repeat.

My parents did pay for a portrait sitting later that summer. I wore the same suit I wore to the prom. I have no idea where those pictures are. They weren’t very meaningful to me. I do, however, know exactly where the picture of my prom date is kept. I treasure that picture and have it in my backpack wherever I go. I won’t post it on FaceBook, but I will share it here.

The 50 years have been very good. And I do salute those who are graduating this year. I hope they can find relationships that are as rich and meaningful to them as mine are to me.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!