How social media can help track down old school friends
18th December 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Before the internet and rise of social media, it was easy to lose touch with childhood friends or university companions. However, now with the power of Facebook, how do you find old friends and what should you expect from the experience? Platforms such as Facebook make it very easy, so make sure to follow this guide and also utilise the tips present for the day that you and your friends finally reunite.
Silversurfers, a wonderful resource of features, news and social forums for over 50s, knows the value of rekindling friendships online. Speaking to us, the popular website said:
“Many people love to track down old friends and nowadays the easiest way to do this is via social media sites like Facebook or the largest community for the over 50s in the UK, Silversurfers.com.
“Martin Lock, the Chief Executive, comments: ‘we have many members who ask about certain old friends that they knew from the 1950s, 60s and 70s and if anyone knows of them. We have had lots of old friends reunited with each other via our forums. People start out by contacting each other and then old friendships blossom again which is very positive and only really possible with sites like Silversurfers.com and Facebook’.”
So, with that being said, and beyond using forums on Silversurfers, where do we begin?
Search their name
First things first, you will want to head to Facebook and search for the name of the person that you are seeking. This is the most obvious and best place to start. After all, by simply entering the name of the friend in question, you might easily find the person you are after.
Scroll down the list of results and see if you recognise any of the photos and names. This can be tricky, however, as after many years, people’s appearances do change and so do their names, but with a little luck, the person you are after might just present themselves.
Using common friends
If a simple search fails to generate the results you are after, try and think about the friends that you might have in common with the person that you are seeking. If you are friends with them on Facebook, you can check their friends list to track down the old friend you are looking for.
There’s also no harm in just speaking to these common friends. Simply send them a message, asking if they remember the person in question or if they are on Facebook. Beyond this, utilise another degree of separation by thinking about friends of friends that might be in the know. Go along the chain of old friends and you never know what might turn up.
Add more friends to increase the size of your net
Don’t be shy about adding as friends others that you come across on your search. While looking for your old school friend, you will likely discover other faces that you remember. By adding these people as friends, you will only improve your chances.
Also, the larger your circle of friends, the more friend suggestions Facebook will be able to offer, getting you a little bit closer to locating who you are after.
Remember old social circles
Another tactic to utilise when using social media to locate old friends is to think back to those school days and try to remember the social circles that this person kept.
Did your friend play sports, play in a band, attend after school clubs, etc.? Think about other people who did and you might stumble onto the right path.
If you come across a person on Facebook that you know kept many friends and frequented a number of social circles, reach out to them, introduce yourself, and see if they know of your friend. Just because they might not remember you, doesn’t mean they won’t remember your old friend.
This process is all about making connections, and even if they don’t know, this person might know someone who does.
Interests and fan pages
Facebook is really well designed for tracking people down and connecting with those that are likeminded. The site has multifarious interest, group, and fan pages that people connect themselves to.
If you can remember what your old friend used to enjoy, which bands they liked, and interests they had, conduct a search, find a relevant page, and see if your friend has ‘liked’ it. It might take a little digging but this is another useful avenue in achieving your goal of reacquainting.
Of course, the number one Facebook page to search for is the one belonging to your old school/learning institution. This would be a great place to start.
Check other social media and perform a google search
If Facebook fails you, fear not, as there are numerous other social channels and websites that might be able to help. Take a look at Twitter if you have an account, conduct a search for your friend and you never know, it might just be that they are active on one social platform but not another.
Websites like Pipl are also a great tool to take advantage of. Simply head on over to their site, search the name and/or location of your friend and see what the results find. Pipl claim to be the world’s largest people search engine so it’s certainly worth checking out.
If all else fails, a Google search might prove to be the solution. If the person in question has a social media presence, has owned a blog, or has been mentioned online due to work, you might be able to track them down.
Find an Old Friend
If all the above should fail, and you are not able to locate your old friend online, this may well be because they don’t have an internet presence. If this is the case, Find an Old Friend is a service that may prove useful.
Find an Old Friend is a people finder website by Robin Brown – a professional tracer. Robin spoke to us about his services: “Every trace is unique and I don't actually speak to the people I have traced, that is something for the client to do in the form of a surprise. I just pass on the address.
“I often deal with people who are not online and never will be and some of these come from magazine adverts that fail to produce a result without the internet. Since we are just a family doing something to supplement our very low pensions and we have very low overheads, I offer an extensive personal service which is normally at a flat rate of only £28”
What to expect upon reacquainting with old friends
Once you finally reconnect with your old friends, it’s important to have the appropriate expectations. After all, people change over time, and depending on how long it’s been, you might not necessarily be able to pick up where you left of.
Of course it can also be a wonderful thing and at the very least it should be nostalgic for all involved, allowing you to reminisce about old memories and fun times. So if the relationship doesn’t develop beyond this, don’t be disappointed.
Think about how different you are from when you were a child at school or student at university. It’s likely that this person has equally grown and developed over time. You might find that not much has changed at all, but it’s good to not set expectations too high.
On the other hand, you may realise that you were far better at making friends when you were younger than you are today. This is a common realisation and this whole process might teach you a few things about yourself that you can use going forward.
Though, just as common, is the recognition that you are now a much better judge of character today than you were when you were young. If you realise this when reacquainting with old friends, always remember to be polite and just appreciate the moment for what it is.
Finding old friends can be a beautiful experience, and you never know, that old school pal might become an important part of your life once more. But even if this isn’t to be the case, there’s plenty one can gain from the experience.
For some of us, as we develop in life and come to rely on the use of mobility equipment and helpful stairlfits, getting out of the house can become more of a challenge. Therefore, reacquainting with old friends in the digital sphere can be tremendously helpful.
Just be prepared to get your detective hat on and good luck!