So when Good Housekeeping asked me to investigate the burgeoning trend of reconnecting online by tracking down a dropped connection or two of my own, I took it as a sign. Darcy and I had been opposites who attracted. As an almost six-foot-tall outsider from a nomadic military family, I found her petite blonde all-American beauty, cheerleader vivacity, and privileged small-town background irresistibly exotic. Darcy, in turn, was fascinated by my rootless childhood. With the butterfly-wing necklace, she symbolically gave me the claustrophobic security she was trying to escape.
I gave Darcy wings of a different sort. In , during our junior year, we abandoned college to hitchhike and Eurail in Europe and its environs — a trip that intensified our friendship and then destroyed it.
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Bound by a shared language and hours spent in cramped train compartments, we had only each other. In that isolation, small slights gradually metastasized into unforgivable offenses. Barely 20, I grew weary of always being the grown-up; she seemed weary of me. After a tense ride from Marrakech, Morocco, to Algeciras, Spain, we parted ways, with no explanation and no plans to meet again on that or any other continent. But all these years later, besides returning the necklace, I wanted to understand why our friendship fell apart, to tell her my side of the story, and to hear hers.
I wanted to know what'd happened to her since. And I wanted to see her for the reason I think we all want to reconnect with people from our past: She'd been part of my life, and, for better or worse, she helped make me who I am now. Reconnecting has never been more popular, largely because it's never been easier.
Over the past few years, social networking has grown dramatically, with million Americans now visiting these Websites each month, according to Sarah Radwanick, marketing-communications analyst at ComScore, Inc. Many networks, like Facebook and Friendster, allow you to make new friends, but "they're set up to facilitate reconnection, too," says Chris Brogan, vice president of strategy and technology at CrossTech Media, which tracks technology trends.
Specialized sites like classmates. And ordinary search engines let us find in minutes information that once took weeks of letter-writing and long-distance calling, or hiring a detective to uncover. From Brogan, I also learned that most searches, like mine, are for a lost friend; next most common, for an old flame. Ironically, I knew my easiest route to finding Darcy would probably be to ask my own lost love, Jacob.
We'd first met because he was pals with several of Darcy's many boyfriends; after I returned from Europe to finish college, I ran into him again. He was 6'4" — a good four inches taller than me — and could make me laugh until I wet my pants; how could I not fall in love? After graduation I moved with him to Austin. Austin lasted, but our romance didn't.
I was left holding the torch I carried with Olympic-level fervor until meeting the man I married. Kick up those embers? No way. And, after all, who needs an old sweetheart when you have Google? I entered the name Darcy Lowell and watched my screen start listing , entries. Even enclosing her name in quotation marks didn't whittle this giant sequoia of data down to a usable size.
I couldn't remember the name of Darcy's high school, so I bypassed classmates. All the Lowells it had were too young, too old, or too male. Depressed — millions of people have caught up with long-lost school pals on the Internet! Why not me?
I joined my own high school's alumni association online, where I posted an open-ended message asking anyone who remembered me to get in touch. Having made my offering to the reunion gods, I turned back to the hunt and plugged into some more specialized search engines. Wink let me perform a one-hit comprehensive search of major social networks.
Iris Shoor and her team analyzed blogs and thousands of headlines to find which words generated the most sharing. Cell phone users receive old Valentine's Day texts from exes and dead loved ones after glitch hits major Go there and scroll until you feel fully stress-free. Click on underlined words and phrases to get suggestions and error explanations. Katya is a full stack digital marketer with a passion for SEO and paid advertising.
Pipl claimed to dig up info that a Google search can miss, from spots like personal Web pages, press mentions, and Amazon wish lists. But the little engine that could was ZabaSearch , which directed me to Intelius ; there I found listings of places where a Darcy Lowell had lived. I instantly spotted a constellation that included my Darcy's hometown and the city where we'd gone to college. For a few dollars, I bought an address, and my heart stopped when Google Maps showed it was just blocks from the country club near where she'd grown up.
Certain this had to be where Darcy lived, I reverse-searched the address for a phone number.
Nervous now that actual contact seemed imminent, I was both frustrated and relieved when the number came up "unlisted. And then I waited.
After two weeks, I accepted that no answer would be coming. Choosing to believe that my letter had never reached Darcy, I faced up to the inevitable: I'd have to contact Jacob. Fifteen years ago, my search would have stopped there. While I did have a mailing address for him, a letter seemed too portentous, and I couldn't bear calling mutual friends to ask for his private number. I could hear their speculations: Was Sarah still carrying a torch? Was her marriage in trouble? Brogan had mentioned that reconnectors now feel safer because they can make contact via computer, but I realized that the Internet conferred another benefit: No one else has to know about your search.
After mere minutes of Googling, I had the timid reconnector's best friend: an e-mail address. I sent a breezy message winging Jacob's way — breezy because I'd worked to make it so. After all, I was only writing to find Darcy. Login with Facebook Login or. Stay logged in. Start free today Please specify your gender. I am a woman a man. Looking for a woman a man. Please supply your email address.
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