Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Revisiting a Keeper: Classmates.com - Fear the Mullet

Jon Reed notes: After I posted this Onion piece mocking Classmates.com to my Facebook profile, I decided to bring out this Classmates.com rant from my older "rantblog" archives. Originally posted on September 27, 2006, if I'd known how bad Classmates.com was going to be hammered by Facebook, I probably wouldn't have bothered with this one.

The most idiotic ad campaign on the web? Classmates.com. Preying on the not-so-nice reality that most of us would gladly trade our current lives for a letterman's jacket and a motorbike, the classmates.com marketing play is all about sentiment...("She married who?") Classmates.com wouldn't even exist if people didn't have an underlying disgust with their water cooler lives and the lumps on the couch they married. But all those folks in those adorable black and whites have turned into lumps too. Soon we'll all be that way unless we get off the couch and do something. Logging our out-of-shape asses onto the Internet and paying someone to help us stalk someone we once projected our adolescent fantasies onto isn't going to get it done.

I'm actually a big fan of high school reunions. Every single reunion I have attended has changed my life in some way. But the idea that we need a third party corporation to help us find our classmates is absurd. Google does a lot of it for free, and a private investigator can lend a hand with the rest. The biggest problem with tracking down old friends is that by and large, the ones you've lost touch with are the ones you're supposed to lose touch with. That kind of drift is natural - fighting it just leads to awkward "he's changed" encounters. The thing is, whenever you go to a real-deal reunion, what you find is always surprising. The people you were closest with back in the day aren't necessarily the ones you "click" with now.

I always leave a reunion with new friends I didn't even know in high school. But classmates.com isn't about meeting new people - it's all nostalgia marketing: find the one that got away! Let me save you the trouble: you don't want the one that got away. Trust me, they have settled into a life more dreary than you ever wanted to know. And if for some reason they are doing great, it's because they are doing GREAT - married, kids, good job, nice pets. So go ahead, log onto classmates.com, put on some Dan Fogelberg, grab that old stake, and drive it further into your heart. The past is powerful stuff; we should engage it on our own terms, on our own time. Classmates.com is a clever business, but I'd bet my mullet that it's broken a lot more hearts than it's helped.

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