Facebook’s High School Reunion Problem

I like Facebook. Oh, it gets a bad rap sometimes. And it’s easy to criticize. Sure, it’s a bit of a distraction from the important things in life. But without Facebook, how else would I get constant invitations to play Candy Crush? Also, it’s fun to take those Facebook personality quizzes, like “Which Passion Of The Christ Character Are You?” and “Which Member of Norway’s 2006 Winter Olympics Team Are You?” (answers: God and speed skater Hedvig Bjelkevik) Actually, my only real problem with Facebook is that it has killed one of our great American traditions, the high school reunion.

High school reunions used to take place ten years after you graduate, or twenty-five years after you graduate. Now, high school reunions take place every morning, while you sit at your computer not doing work, browsing your former classmates’ update statuses. “Hey, the chubby guy I sat next to in biology class ran another marathon this weekend. I guess I should ‘like’ it?”

The thing I got most out of reading Charles Darwin is that human beings are not supposed to stay in touch with everyone from high school. It’s unnatural — like genetically modified food or heterosexual sex. Rather, during our teenage years, we’re in a monkey-like state. Then we evolve; we leave high school, maybe holding on to a couple of good friends if you’re lucky, then we start our lives, occasionally running into a school acquaintance at Target, and then years later we get together with all our classmates for a night of reminiscing, drunkenness, seeing who got weird-looking and revenge sex. This has been the natural, biological evolution of graduation-to-reunion for millions of years. It’s why Alabama won’t teach it in science class.

Sure, high school reunions still exist. But they’re not the same. Now, people go into their reunion already knowing the stuff they used to learn at the reunion… which was the whole point of going to the reunion. High school reunions used to be all about the “surprise” factor. Whoa, James is religious now!? Darlene is hot now!? Kyle married our English teacher!? But, because of Facebook, everyone already knows this information. So now when you meet and greet your former classmates, the conversation is more like, “So what do you think about this weather we’ve been having?”

Before Facebook, the time-honored high school reunion was the place to discover which classmates are now successful and which classmates are now failures. Before Facebook, the high school reunion was the place to discover which classmates are now happy (IE the ones who found their soul mate and got married) and which classmates are now miserable (IE the ones who found their soul mate, got married and then had children). Now, at least based on the Facebook update statuses that people write about their lives, apparently everyone is happy and successful. Look how everyone is smiling in their vacation pics.

And, shallow as it may be, let’s be honest; the biggest reason to attend your high school reunion has always been to find out how your former classmates look. But, of course, with Facebook, I bet most high school reunions don’t even bother to hand out name tags at the door anymore. Everyone already knows how everyone looks. (note: I looked good at my high school reunion. Painful as the process may be, subjecting my face to a twice-a-week chemical skin peel is really paying off.)

We’re all connected now. And this is nice. It’s a good thing. The at-one-time bullies are Facebook friendly with their victims. Former prom queens chat on-line with the unpopular nerds. The kids who were jocks are now… well, they’re still a**holes. But for the most part, Facebook has broken down the cliquish stereotypes we assumed our former classmates to be. The kids you partied with are now adults, sharing political views and news about their lives and — though smothered underneath a pile of selfies — even the occasional deep thought.

But for better or worse, social networking technology has rendered another American tradition irrelevant. And that’s kind of sad. At least I assume it’s an American tradition. Do other countries have high school reunions? I’m thinking Iraq probably doesn’t. “Hey, does anyone know if Saddam is coming tonight? He what?! Wow. Okay, then I guess that means he’s not coming.”

There have been a million movie and TV show plots in which the protagonist attends his or her high school reunion — often with the hopes of seeing an old flame or looking to settle an old score or to apologize to a classmate they once hurt and they still feel guilty about it. I bet that today’s high school students have trouble relating to these storylines. The mystery of “whatever happened to so-and-so” is a fading era, replaced by “so-and-so just changed their relationship status.”

And that’s what high school reunions are really about, and that’s what technology has taken away from us… the excitement of mystery. And that’s a small thrill that those-still-too-young-to-have-attended-their-first-high-school-reunion will miss, without even knowing they miss it. Enjoy your ten-year reunion, twenty-eight-year-olds. But know that when you walk through the doors, there won’t be any surprises.

There’s no mystery anymore. I mean, the next Avengers movie doesn’t even come out for another year, but I already know the plot. I already know everything about the new superhero characters. And I want to know everything about the movie, but yet I don’t. But yet I do. But yet I don’t. But yet I do. Do you see what I’m saying? (I’m saying that I’m a geek.)

Similarly, I love that Facebook allows me to keep in touch with so many people from my past. Thank you, Facebook. It almost makes up for funneling our personal information to government agencies and using us as human guinea pigs to sell more soda. It’s comforting to be a mouse click away from so many names that, without computers, would’ve probably just drifted into that hazy retrospective part of our brain that self-activates anytime we’re driving on an unfamiliar back road and a Sarah McLachlan song pops up on the radio. And yet, perhaps “comforting” is really just a crutch. Are our memories not enough? Sometimes I think that we’re missing out by not missing out. Eh, whatever. Most of these people will eventually unfriend you, anyway.

Of course, there are people who choose not to be part of the social networking world, who would never join Facebook. But those are the same people who have no interest in high school reunions, anyway. They’ve moved on, living in the “now” without regret, grabbing hold of every new adventure that comes their way. They don’t want to waste their time dwelling on about random former acquaintances of which they only have vague recollections. In other words, people who aren’t on Facebook are no fun.

Yes, Facebook has eliminated the need for reunions. I’m going to make a prediction. One, competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut will surpass seventy franks during next year’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. And also, in time, the traditional high school reunion will be phased out, disappearing from the cultural landscape, just like landline telephones and Miley Cyrus’ dignity. Replacing it will be a new sort of “reunion”, frequent and more spur-of-the-moment casual get-togethers. Update Status: Hey, everyone from high school! Some of us are getting together at Applebee’s tomorrow night. If you’re in town, stop by! And, hey, that could be fun, too.

Here’s a personal story…

Years ago, back in my college days, I met a beautiful girl who sat next to me during a summer class I was taking. We struck up a conversation, which then led to an exciting, unforgettable, romantic, passionate affair that lasted until the end of the summer. Then I moved back to my hometown. We never saw each other again.

Over the years, from time to time, I tried looking her up. I’m dying to see what she’s doing these days. But she had a very common name. And, honestly, I never really knew that much about her. So I was never been able to find her. And I’m sort of glad about that. Sure, I’m curious. But, in this case, I’ll take the mystery and the memories over the banal comfort of the present.

Nevertheless, if you happen to be reading this essay, Gwyneth Paltrow, I hope you’re doing well and I’d love to hear from you so hit me up on Twitter!

Everything Happens for a Reason

You know what’s really annoying? When people tell you that everything happens for a reason. That’s like saying, Oh, you fell and smashed your face against the hard concrete? Yeah well, that happened for a reason. Oh, a bird had explosive diarrhea on your shoulder right before your meeting? Yep, there’s a reason.

A few months ago, I was doing what I normally do, stressing out because I didn’t book another commercial and wondering whether I should create a dating profile or finish a can of Pringles. I skimmed through the latest comedy publication that just released the 999,000 best comedians in America and my name was nowhere to be seen. I read a few emails that said, Thanks Katrinka, but no. Another wedding invitation came in the mail and not only didn’t I have anyone to bring, but unless they were definitely serving pigs-in-a-blanket, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go.

I was feeling tired, just not myself. My head felt foggy, I was nauseous and I had crazy pressure on my face. My ears were clogged and I would get intense headaches every morning. It was allergy season, so my television blared with commercials for treating them. Do you have Sinus Pressure? Headaches? Are you tired all the time? Take this pill and you will feel so much better. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what the commercial said because I was too busy shouting, “I auditioned for that!” to notice.

My GP thought it was migraines; an ear, nose and throat doctor thought it was sleep apnea; and an allergist wasn’t sure, but did mention that he also does stand up comedy. Kill me now. I went to see a neurologist who, along with my aunt who is a nurse, told me to get an MRI.

After the 20-minute procedure, My Mom and I prepared for a fun weekend away from the city. My sister was meeting us and we were excited. The three of us can make anything fun as long as we’re together. We especially love car rides, preparing good meals and gardening, a special treat for people who only have a fire escape with a sad-looking geranium on it. That afternoon there was a message from my neurologist. All I heard was, “Get yourself to an emergency room, I’m afraid you’re going to fall asleep and not wake up.”

An emergency room in the suburbs is nothing like ones in a city. There’s elevator music, Martha Stuart magazines, and people bring water to your shaken mother to calm her nerves. Soon, we were joined by some of our friends and Mary, the amazing mother of my childhood boyfriend. They all remained strong for us when the doctor told us the news… there was a mass on my brain that had to be removed. Mary quickly made some phone calls and within minutes, had the name of one of the top neurosurgeons in the area.

One minute you’re planning a weekend and the next, a team of doctors surround your bed. One of them knelt down, held my hand and explained that they were going to remove the mass. A mass? Is that a tumor? Yes, a tumor and a cyst were the two things causing me all that pain. I was scared. Was I going to die? It wasn’t really a strange question considering in the past couple of years I had lost several close friends, a young cousin and my dear Dad. We knew what we knew and wouldn’t find out anything else until they took more tests and completed the surgery.

The CAT scan of my abdomen (something I didn’t even think about having them do) was clear. Next was another MRI. “Are you claustrophobic?,” asked a nurse. “I am now,” I said. However, thanks to a little thing called Ativan, I could have been hanging out with the cast of Three’s Company at the Regal Beagle instead of being inside a clanking tube and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

The next few days I spent wondering if any of the doctors were single, canceling shows and passing on a new writing job. I crossed out all the fun things I had planned in my calendar and wrote ‘Brain Surgery’ in its place.

My room began to fill up with flowers, balloons and stuffed animals. The kindest emails and texts came from grade school, high school and college friends. Some of the loveliest people I know, my comedian friends in New York and Los Angeles, organized a prayer chain. My close family and friends stayed by my side. I never felt more loved in my life.

As they wheeled me down to the operating room, I began to cry. I prayed that my Dad would watch over me. He and my Mom had always been there for me before anything scary and the loss of his presence was palpable. I imagined him standing there next to me giving me the thumbs up. I woke up in the ICU and the very first thing I saw was my smiling Mom at the foot of my bed. “It’s all going to be OK,” she said. Turns out, it was a rare tumor of the central nervous system, but the tumor was benign. Never in my life had I heard more glorious words.

The weeks of recovery that followed were filled with family, friends, laughter, generous gifts and an enormous amount of gratitude. I was reminded in a very short time how much love I have in my life. Essentially, I found my strength in love. (Cue Whitney Houston.)

This experience has changed me for the better. I consciously appreciate my beating heart and fully accept whatever comes my way. Instead of stressing about all the things I don’t have, I appreciate all the things that are in my life at this moment. I can almost watch the commercials I didn’t book without wincing. (I SAID ALMOST!)

Maybe I needed a jolt, a reset button or a fresh new start to continue my journey through life. Maybe I needed a few weeks to just sit and think. Or, maybe my experience will encourage someone to get an MRI. I may not ever know the real reason for all of this but I do know one thing for sure. As annoying as it sounds, I now believe everything does happen for a reason.

Let’s be real ladies: a greased up man shoving his banana-hammock-clad junk in your face is not the definition of a good time.

Knowing that most women aren’t as enthused with strippers as men are, one San Francisco based start-up decided to change the game and give women what they really want: Man servants.

The company, appropriately called ManServants, states that their vision is “to empower women to make their own rules. Rules a ManServant may then follow.” The idea is that instead of hiring creepy strippers for their bachelorette parties, women can hire gorgeous models to do the things they actually desire: hold their umbrellas, serve them Champagne by the pool, massage their bodies with their sexy model hands and even snap selfies for them (which in the old days was called “taking a picture”).

According to the website, each Manservant is customizable, just like a Build-A-Bear! Customers can tell the company what they want their Manservant to look like, what he should wear, how he should behave and even give him a new name (the site suggests “Garçon, Bartholomew, or Ryan Gosling.”)

All of this comes at a price of course. The company’s founders tell The Huffington Post that prices will be available in September when the service launches in San Francisco.

Oh, and if you think Manservants is just an escort service dressed up as a bachelorette schtick, think again. The website explicitly states, “A ManServant keeps his penis in his pants and out of the lady’s face.” Phew!

Watch the hilarious advertisement above for more info. Then, let us know in the comments section if you would rent a man for the day.

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Land Rover released photos of its latest new vehicle, the Discovery Sport, but it looks like the production vehicle will be a big departure from the concept shown in New York last April.

No. Don’t eat that, sir.

Please. It’s not a kebab, it’s styrofoam.

On some level, you have to realize that.

And we can only hope that at some point very soon after this video was taken, you did.

Also, to be honest, this video kind of makes styrofoam look good. Maybe it is good. Maybe just a little taste …

NO. Styrofoam eating is not the answer.

Like Us On Facebook |
Follow Us On Twitter |
Contact The Author

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. And sometimes, when your cell phone rings on live TV, your attempts to silence it are worse than the ring itself.

Like this guest on a Vietnamese TV show, for instance, whose phone rang in the middle of a segment last week. After initially playing it cool and casually trying to mute the electronic device, however, our friend panics.

Judging by his response, he may have put the phone on silent — permanently.

h/t Kotaku

“We used to get a little respect / Now we’re lucky if we even get / To climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut and ride along / And be the girl in a country song.”

There are still wide-brimmed hats and pickup trucks aplenty, but the country music video landscape changed with the rise of “bro-country” — which is exactly what it sounds like. Videos for the growing sub-genre feature two things in particular: beer, lots of it, and the ogling of women in cut-off shorts and bikini tops.

Newcomers to the scene Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye want you to know they aren’t having any of it.

Their single “Girl In A Country Song” skillfully dismantles bro-country music video tropes as transparent as the wet t-shirts that populate them. The industry’s treatment of women drives the pair “redneck crazy” — but there’s a catch.

The duo’s song comes across as earnestly defiant, an authentic criticism of the industry from two of the people who love it most. And judging by the number of articles that have been written about it, their objections are resonating with a lot of people.

But as Jezebel points out, their rallying cry has been financed by the very same people who also have a hand in financing — and profiting from — bro-country. Maddie & Tae are signed to Dot Records, a label under the Big Machine Records umbrella that bro-country acts like Florida Georgia Line also fall under.

For the label execs, it might not matter that Maddie & Tae’s girl power anthem is very anti-”shaking my moneymaker” — as long as it makes money for them.

That isn’t to say that “Girl In A Country Song” doesn’t matter, because it does. It matters that girls who grow up surrounded by bro-country have an appropriately catchy response to sing back, and it matters that the execs are seeing that women whose last names aren’t Swift or Lambert can make such a major splash with their debut. The conversation that Maddie & Tae are contributing to matters.

“The song is so topical and it’s what’s going on right now,” Dye told Rolling Stone. And the million and half views (and counting) on their video would seem to agree.

Can Smiles and Laughter Change the World?

I have a dream, perhaps naïve, of bringing the world together through smiles and laughter. Religion, diplomacy and democracy haven’t succeeded so maybe it’s time to focus on something more universal. And that is why I launched the first annual Funniest Person in the World Competition.

After 35 years in the comedy business, just imagining this possibility — of seeing funny people from all the countries of the world coming together to make people laugh — brings a smile to my heart. In addition of course, there is the possibility of enlightening each other.

We see this at the Olympics and the World Cup. All the nations put their differences aside, even if it’s only for a few hours, to compete. It’s not about our differences but about our love and appreciation for athletic achievement. Could a love of smiling and laughing accomplish this same goal? I believe if we all learn to laugh together we might become a more unified planet. Remember, the Olympics started in 1896 in Athens Greece, and the World Cup started in1930 in Uruguay, and the World’s Funniest started in 2014 in the World Wide Web.

Laugh Factory has already received submissions from 20 countries — ranging from South Africa and England to Ireland, and Sweden to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Israel — and anybody with internet access can vote for their favorites at www.laughfactory.com.

Too often we teach our children about the negatives in the world and how it comes from our differences. This focus on what separates us tends to foster fear and hatred towards people who are not “like us.” However, the people of the world are really similar, especially when they are smiling and laughing.

I have seen it happen. People of all different races, religions, countries, and cultural backgrounds come to the Laugh Factory and regardless of how they feel about each other, once the show starts, suddenly they laugh in unison. All their differences seem to disappear during the show. If only we could see this level of unity and smiling at the United Nations the world would be a better place for everybody.

It is my hope, that by the time the competition enters its fifth year, representatives from each of the world’s 195 countries will eventually submit to be part of this yearly global competition.

Laughter is a universal language. This is a chance to find alternative ambassadors, the kind that bring diplomacy through a belly laugh. After all, laughter exists everywhere within the confines of culture and traditions. Laughter based on observations , laughter that acknowledges the gap between ideals and realities and laughter at the stereotypes — as well as the oddballs — of the culture, any culture, every culture.

As the famous lyric assures us, “when you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you.”

Growing up is hard. Watching someone else grow up can be even harder.

Meet little Sadie. Sadie is a 5-year-old girl who is really, really upset about the fact that her adorable baby brother is going to grow up some day. But who can blame her? He is just so lovable, and his smiles are seriously the cutest.

Sadie also doesn’t want to die when she’s 100.

We feel you, sweetie.