Social media proves to be friend and foe as organizers plan Downey High reunion

More than 100 people showed up to the 1998 Downey High School 10-year class reunion.

But since then, it has been harder and harder to get old classmates to attend the traditional get-togethers, said Joanne Rapadas, who is helping coordinate the 2001 Downey High reunion.

“The trend these days, from what I can tell, is that attendance is down,” said Rapadas, a former Downey High student body president .

“And I think that’s due in part to social media,” she said.

Because people stay in touch online, they don’t need a class reunion to catch up with old friends.

Now she and other former class officers are using those same media to try to draw attention to the 2001 event scheduled for Sept. 17 at Café Sevilla in Long Beach.

The organizers made a website,, and they also created a facebook page to draw attention to the party.

Rapadas hopes old friends who have used facebook to stay in touch will use the same medium to spread the word about the reunion.

There may not be much research on whether social media is causing less people to attend class reunions, but news stories have documented possible connections, said Nancy Baym, a University of Kansas communications professor who focuses on the interactions between online and offline social life.

And while there’s a perception that electronic communication and social media are causing a reduction in human interaction, that’s not the case, Baym said.

People often use media, such as facebook or twitter, to coordinate face-to-face meetings, she said.

“The evidence suggests that the Internet fosters connections,” she said.

For Rapadas – along with companies that coordinate reunions — contacting old facebook friends is easy. It’s those who shy away from social media who are the hardest to find, Rapadas said.

“I think that’s where the reunion companies are heading, as far as what they are trying to do,” Rapadas said. “They are trying to get more data on people who are hard to find.”

She’s working hard to get out a big crowd out for her reunion. Her sister coordinated the 1998 reunion.

“We’re aiming to get at least as many as they did,” Rapadas said.


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