Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Facebook as a "Time Machine"

The Scarsdale High Class of 1984 appears to be back. I'm not sure why I signed up on Facebook but for a nerdy guy, I now have a lot of "friends". The old High School gang is reforming in cyberspace. I thought I have a good memory but I must admit that I've had to stare hard at some of the photos to recall who some people are. Many of the women have taken on some dude's last name and I've had to stare at these names and face to try to recall who they are and what we talked about 25 years ago. 25 years is a long time. somehow my college drinking and graduate school studying have erased a lot of my memories of High School. I do know arithmetic. It causes me some pain to realize that I'm closer to age 65 than to being a high school graduate.

Fortunately, academic economists age slowly (at least above the neck and below the hair line). There are plenty of guys (like Larry Summers) in their middle 50s who still view themselves as the young turk. That allows even younger guys to convince themselves that our best work is still in front of us. Facebook reminds me of who I was but I doubt that 25 years from now that I log onto Facebook to connect to an academic economics webpage of "friends". Google allows me to connect to what I want to read and think about and that's sufficient for me.

Is Facebook evil? Is it best to leave the past alone and to move forward? What is the cost of re-establishing these past social networks? They must crowd out something?