So here’s another example of how things are changing…

Yesterday I’m driving down Main St. in the little town where I live when I see a crowd milling about the local funeral parlor. That in itself isn’t totally unusual, but as I pass by, I see an inordinate number of teenagers coming out. Not good. Having been away for the past two weeks, I’m completely out of touch with the local news, so I’m left to wonder if some tragedy may have struck the high school where I used to teach.

When I get home, I click into my Facebook account and do a quick scan of my Hunterdon Central friends, both former students and teachers. I notice one of my former students had joined the group “For Mike–(RIP 9/3/07)” There, I find that one of the more popular athletes from a few years ago had been killed in a car accident. Sure enough, the services listed on the page corresponded with the activity at the funeral home. The group has almost 400 members, and lots of tributes, and pictures and all in all is a pretty moving tribute to this young man, including a thank you from his younger brother. Amazing.

When I see things like this, when I think about how different this world is, not just for the kids and families and friends who are openly grieving for their loss and connecting online in very profound ways, but for me as well, someone who is learning about ideas and events in ways that are new and interesting almost every day, I think about those who say that we could do all of this back in the days of the BBS and that nothing has fundamentally changed. I remember those days too, the days before the Web, and I just can’t fathom how anyone could think that this isn’t different.

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