On the other hand, the ability to turn the camera off, or even to remove the name from the zoom presence, can give the special pleasure of eavesdropping on a reunion invisibly and free of small talk (or heavy talk).
Reunions can trigger a series of rivalries, a fact that Alexandra Solomon, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Northwestern University, has not overlooked: “The fantasy is that your classmates will tell you, ‘Look at how far you got are! ‘ ” She said. But trying to score points with old friends doing the same thing can be in vain, she added. “Who will you impress when everyone takes part in the parade and nobody sees the parade?” She said.
Ideally, reunions give people the opportunity to get over themselves and to revive a waning feeling of social justice in a troubled time. Dr. Solomon, who was planning to attend a separate meeting this week, confided: “For me, this visit is meant to reunite, repair and testify to the layers of racism that we did not do when we were 14 or 15 years old. I don’t know how to understand that. “
Victor Quint, 71, anesthetist in Toronto, attended his first class reunion with friends from Johannesburg, South Africa, where he grew up earlier this month. This meeting and the current racist tensions triggered a feeling of déjà vu, he said. He had spent his youth fighting apartheid, joining street protests, being beaten, detained, and arrested by the police. “That was my time,” he said, “and I am now being reminded of it. I did not enjoy living in this system.”
Ivan Dreyer, a lawyer in New York and a former classmate of Mr. Quint, helped organize this online meeting and another one this month. “I didn’t have much social conscience at this young age,” admitted Dreyer, 70. “At home I would say to a servant:” Make me like this for lunch. “
“Only around 10 I thought,” Oh damn, these people have to want them to live in our house. “Now I wonder what it would have been like if the situation had reversed.”