April 26, 2023
Looking for Old Friends: How to Find Your Long-Lost Buddies or Gal Pals
Have you ever dreamed of finding old friends again, certain people you may have lost touch with long ago? Maybe they're elementary school pals, high school teammates, Army buddies, sorority sisters, work colleagues, or onetime next-door neighbors.
Whomever they may be, for an older adult, it can be such a delight to see or call old friends once more.
In some cases, though, finding certain friends can be a little tricky, especially when they don't use social media. Fortunately, there are plenty of digital tools that could help you search, and many of them are free to use.
Let's take a closer look at the exciting, reinvigorating process of finding and connecting with lost friends.
Create a File
Once you have someone in mind, you might start by making a little dossier on that person. (You could skip this step if you want, but it may help to have some facts in front of you as you embark on your search.)
First, take a blank piece of paper and write the person's full name at the top.
Next, jot down any details about that person you can remember: a nickname, maiden name, old address, date of birth, schools attended, past workplaces, and so forth.
If you have photos of that person, clip them to your info sheet. You could also attach any relevant documents you have — postcards or letters, for example.
Now it's time to enter cyberspace.
Are you on Facebook? If so, start there. Enter your friend's name into its search bar.
When searching Facebook, it can help to know more than a person's name. For example, imagine you're looking for your buddy Donald Jones. The search term "Donald Jones" could turn up lots of results. Therefore, knowing Donald's college or current city of residence could help.
Also, your friend Donald Jones might be on Facebook under a different name. For instance, if his middle name is Robert, he could be listed as "Donald Robert." (Maybe Donald wants extra privacy, or he doesn't want certain people to contact him.)
Thus, it sometimes helps to find a mutual friend on Facebook, someone with a visible friend list. You could then search that person's list for the name "Donald." And, if you come across your pal Donald's profile, you may recognize his picture right away.
2. Search Engines
In many instances, a kupuna isn't on Facebook. In that case, you could turn to search engines.
Naturally, Google is a great place to start. But you can also utilize lesser-known search engines like Bing and Ask, which sometimes yield different results.
When you're searching, put the person's full name inside quotation marks. If it's an unusual name, your results will probably be limited in number. But, if it's a common name like Donald Jones, the number of results could be overwhelming.
To narrow your search, then, try adding another term besides the name, such as one of the following:
- Last known city of residence
- Alma mater
- A sport or hobby this person enjoyed
Examples would include "Donald Jones" USC, "Donald Jones" AT&T, and "Donald Jones" Honolulu. Keep experimenting!
Also, for each search, look through at least five pages of results. And be sure to search images as well.
What you're ultimately looking for is a webpage that provides contact information. For instance, by searching "Donald Jones" Chicago, you might discover that Donald is now a volunteer at his local Elks Lodge. (A photo on his Elks Lodge's website could confirm that it's really him.) In that case, you could use the Elks Lodge's phone number or email address to get in touch.
3. Miscellaneous Websites
In addition to search engines, there are numerous other websites you could scour. They include Alumni.NET, LinkedIn, and Classmates.com.
Some websites even specialize in finding personal phone numbers and residential addresses. They can be ideal for connecting with lost friends, although they sometimes have out-of-date info. Among your options are:
- Instant Checkmate
In some instances, an organization will have its own directory that you can search. If you went to a private high school or college with this old friend, try your school's alumni webpage. And the website VetFriends.com helps reunite people who met in the military.
Did you work with this person? If so, perhaps your former employer maintains a database of past and present employees. You could call the company to find out.
Also, if you're unable to locate a particular person, maybe you could track down a mutual acquaintance instead. That individual may have the contact info you're seeking.
Furthermore, keep in mind that you don't have to search alone. An internet-savvy friend or relative could assist you. Grandchildren, in particular, love spending time with their kupuna. Indeed, this search could turn into quite a bonding experience.
The Joys of Reconnection
In the end, however you locate an old friend, reconnecting socially can bring about significant mental health benefits.
Specifically, it can lower the risk of depression and ease feelings of loneliness — for the person reaching out as well as for the person who's contacted. In fact, any kind of positive social interaction can boost the functioning of the brain and nervous system, the memory in particular.
Not to mention, for an older adult, the experience of telling old stories and revisiting old times can be its own reward. Time often passes by so quickly, and connecting with lost friends helps us appreciate the years we've had. It helps put everything into perspective.
Yes, finding old friends lets us take stock of all that we've accomplished in life, all that we've enjoyed, and all that we still want to do.