R.I.P., the high school yearbook.
While it may be a bit premature to permanently lay to rest that once-ultimate document of the high school experience, its demise has already been noted in some parts of the country and sales have plummeted just about everywhere else.
There was a time less than a generation ago when as many as 80 percent of high school students bought yearbooks, a figure that now stands around 10-20 percent in those areas where a yearbook is published at all.
The culprit appears to be the proliferation of social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, which have made yearbooks seem positively quaint in this cyber age. As one who will attend my own high school reunion this summer, I wonder how the current electronic sites will factor into the reunions of the MySpace generation. Yearbooks are the source document for every high school reunion I’ve attended and I can’t imagine a reunion without them or suitable surrogates.
For my father, his high school yearbook yielded an unexpected connection with a person he’s never met and who lives several states away.
A couple of years ago, Dad received via mail a copy of the yearbook from his senior year along with a letter. The letter explained that the yearbook was a gift from a Texas attorney who had acquired it at a garage sale. The attorney had gone through a rough patch of substance abuse that had cost him his career and marriage a few years back and part of his therapy was to find yearbooks at garage sales, pick one person from the senior class, track that person down and send them the yearbook.
Although the attorney has restored his life and has rebuilt his career, he continues to seek out the yearbooks. My dad was inspired by the experience and, since he already had a copy of the yearbook, he called a few classmates to offer them his extra copy but found they had kept theirs, too. Keep in mind that these people graduated from high school 70 years ago.
Do you think today’s high school seniors will be keeping their MySpace profiles 70 years from now?