Seven years ago, I was one of a small handful of people who organized the Mahopac High School Class of 1990 20th reunion.
It was, for me, a labor of love. I’ve always been a nostalgic person, and—even though I was neither particularly popular nor particularly successful back in the long hallways of MHS—there was a genuine longing to reconnect with people; to see what they became. Hence, I devoted myself to tracking down each and every classmate, one by one by one. It took hundreds upon hundred of hours. As did booking the hotel, planning the food, creating the montage video. Again, it was a labor of love. I had a wonderful time, and the event itself was one of the most joyful moments of my life. I didn’t want the evening to end.
It is 2016. My feelings of nostalgia have shriveled up. I will almost certainly never attend another class reunion.
Why? To a degree, Facebook—the slayer of nostalgia. Any curiosity over what became of, oh, Kim Davis or Larry Glover has pretty much died. I can glance downward at my phone and see photos of their kids, their spouses, their lives. The mysteries that once existed no longer exist. There is no, “Holy cow, you look great!” surprise because I know, holy cow, you look great. I see you on my screen.
And yet, the above paragraph is somewhat incomplete. Yes, Facebook has largely squashed my longing to recover yesteryear. But the real culprit(s) is Facebook—plus the 2016 presidential election. You see, I come from a v-e-r-y conservative town. A good number of the citizens are lovely, and also set in their sheltered political ways. Which is, of course, generally fine. You believe in lower taxes and a bigger military? OK, I can understand. You think standing for the National Anthem is a must? Not a big problem. You think Hillary Clinton would make a bad president? Fair enough.
You want to elect a man who aspires to ban Muslims?
You want to elect a man who Tweets anti-Semitic images?
You want to spend half a decade questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship?
You want to post images of Obama wearing a turban?
And images of Obama’s wife compared to an ape?
And images of a black person beating up a white person—your proof that blacks are “thugs” and “animals”?
You want to applaud a man who rooted for the housing collapse? Who calls women fat pigs? Who suggests a turn toward violence against the other candidate? Who says a judge with Mexican parents can’t serve honorably? Who says we need to stop and frisk black citizens?
Fine. Go ahead. Do what you do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it or digest it or continue to associate with you. It doesn’t mean I have to pay you mind, or listen to your bullshit xenophobic racist spewings because, hey, “everyone’s allowed to have his opinion. It’s a free country.” I know what many of you say about me; that I’m this arrogant asshole who thinks he’s too good for Mahopac and blah blah blah.
And, you know what—you’re right. Your belief system makes me arrogant; makes me feel like I’m far more intelligent than I probably am. Your belief system makes me sad for Mahopac—a town that nurtured me, but one that seems to have (in many regards) lost itself (or, perhaps, simply exposed itself) in its lack of diversity and open-mindedness.
I have probably blocked 100 classmates over the past year, and I’ve probably been blocked by another 75 to 80. I have no interest in forging friendships with racists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes. I don’t want that in my life. Even my relatively meaningless Facebook life.
I no longer care.
My nostalgia is dead.
PS: I know … I know. “Well, fuck you Pearlman, you asshole. I never liked you or your fucking stupid books.” Great. This works out well for both of us.