Great Facebook Idea: Nostalgia Through Music

Before I begin, I'm going to tell you all a story about a co-worker and my ill-fated expedition today to take a photo for Facebook/Instagram that resulted in one of the most delightful comedies of errors I have ever been involved in. Why? Because my blog, my rules.

First, the geography. This will be important later. University of Portland is situated on a bluff high above the Willamette River, which flows through much of Oregon and was the final destination if you ever played Oregon Trail as a kid. It's quite a stunning setting - check it out! Anyway, 50 years ago some students built a large "P" on a grassy patch of the bluff, and the P has recently been repainted and is now actually visible - if you looked at the photo I linked to, you can hardly see it. Not many people know it has been repainted, and I knew it would be social media gold if I could get a good picture of it.

Now, the play-by-play: Driving to the nearby docks only to be turned away at a Coast Guard checkpoint (no appointment, no access to the piers that have the perfect vantage point... lame); grumpily driving back to campus; hiking down an absurdly steep trail (me wearing no less than a suit and tie!), accompanied by an IT guy who happened to be walking by and wanted to get out of the office for a bit; my co-worker falling down and sliding several feet with all his camera equipment; the IT guy absolutely hating life; walking several hundred feet along a railroad track; getting honked at by a police boat; not being able to get the shot we wanted because the angle was too steep; seriously contemplating climbing a huge tree before thinking better of it; scrambling back up the bluff through a maze of thorny blackberry bushes while sweating profusely due to the 90 degree heat; and ultimately posting this ridiculously sharply-angled photo in which you can hardly tell what is going on, complete with a dejected (and very sweaty!) cameo by yours truly. But hey - 200 "likes" and counting. So totally worth it. Ah... the life of a social media manager!

Anyway, this story does have a point other than making me sound cool (because, you know, getting all sweaty while on a fool's errand to take a stupid picture of a giant letter is my definition of cool). While in the car, "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes came on the radio (not the "He-Man Says Hey" version, alas), and it immediately took me back to a college party, when a friend of mine - who had perhaps indulged a bit too much in one of the few $35 dock-sale Tecate kegs I had purchased earlier that day - demanded  that I find that song and play it. This was pre-YouTube and easy (legal) access to songs online, but after ten minutes or so I managed to find it on a CD and we belted out that slice of 90s angst like there was no tomorrow. (Also possibly involved was some dancing like nobody was watching.)

They say that smell has the most nostalgic memories, but screw that. Music = nostalgia. Especially for college. Ask anyone to name some songs that remind them of their college days, and they will immediately smile and rattle off a few choice cuts, many of which will be accompanied by a story. (For the record, my list includes: Sophie Ellis Bextor's Murder on the Dancefloor; Shakira's Whenever Wherever; and Enrique Iglesias's Escape. I think I had a different college experience than most people from 2000-05.)

Now that I've ensured no one is reading any more, I'll get to the point, which is that I really loved this post from Susquehanna University, asking their followers to name songs that belong on a Susquehanna mix-tape.

Next, they should ask who that special someone was they made that mix-tape for when they were awkward and 19. 

Next, they should ask who that special someone was they made that mix-tape for when they were awkward and 19. 

As a lover of music, this resonated with me immediately, and I couldn't help myself from clicking to read all the comments to see what people had posted. Especially cool was how many alumni tagged their friends in comments to remind them of a particular memory or just reminisce on college days. 

This is me, yo. Right here. This is why we do social media for colleges. Not to mindlessly gather likes and shares, not to amass thousands of followers. But to build, shape, and reinforce those happy memories and emotions people experience when they think about the school. And this mix-tape prompt accomplishes that so wonderfully well.

Props, Susquehanna! My addition to the list: Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City, because that's what my twin uncles Danny and Billy would sing in the car when we were driving through Pennsylvania. Good times with show-tune singing uncles!

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