Jane Bradley: ‘Friends Reunited’flogs a dead horse as it runsout ofnostalgia

I JUST logged on to Friends Reunited for the first time in more than half a decade. I know this, because my profile tells former classmates that I have “the glamorous life of a reporter on the Edinburgh Evening News” – I left our sister paper in 2007 – and that I am “living with my boyfriend”, with whom I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary later this year.

I JUST logged on to Friends Reunited for the first time in more than half a decade. I know this, because my profile tells former classmates that I have “the glamorous life of a reporter on the Edinburgh Evening News” – I left our sister paper in 2007 – and that I am “living with my boyfriend”, with whom I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary later this year.

The reason for this trip down memory lane was that the original social networking site announced this week that it is relaunching and focusing on “nostalgic moments”. I can’t help thinking this is dead horse flogging.

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Launched in 1999, the company was sold to ITV for £125m in 2005, before Brightsolid – a subsidiary of Dundee comic publisher DC Thomson – bought it for a piffling £25m four years later. But in its heyday – pre-Facebook, Bebo et al – Friends Reunited was exciting, the first chance for internet users in the UK to communicate with people they had lost touch with.

In North America, Classmates.com did the same. I remember my first invitation to Classmates from a friend in Canada, where I spent a year as a 12-year-old. I joined up, via the giant desktop computer at my parents’ house, trawling through the class lists. I came across names I hadn’t heard in almost a decade, and messaged friends I had lost touch with well before the advent of email.

I spent happy hours, comparing the profiles of now-grown up and glamorous ex-classmates with their speccy, brace-wearing photos in the yearbook and discovering what had happened to them since I headed back across the Atlantic in 1993. That was a real nostalgia-fest. I could practically smell the high school hallways; hear the clank of the lockers between lessons. But this would never happen now. Modern teenagers do not lose touch with anyone. Any vague acquaintance is immediately added to their Facebook profile, where they can stalk them for all eternity – they will not feel nostalgia in the same way.

Friends Reunited might just be able to grab the business of a few older people, who have perhaps not yet joined other social networking sites for a few more years. But its days are inevitably numbered.