This past weekend, I went to my high school reunion. I didn’t really know what to expect going in. I had kept in touch with many former classmates and friends over the years, but many had drifted off the radar in the quarter century since we graduated.
However, in the days leading up to the festivities, I found myself blaming social media, and particularly Facebook, for ruining some of the “mystery”. Before even getting to the reunion, I already knew what many of my classmates looked like in 2011, where they lived, who they married, if they had kids, what their high scores were in Farmville, and what they happen to be eating “right now”. My anticipation for the reunion was surely tempered by a bit of disdain for the Harvard kid whose invention would deprive me of the kind of good surprises that no longer occur in everyday life.
But, at the expense of making this post continue to sound like an overly-dramatic Oprah moment, my negativity about social media in this context was short-lived. I realized that the limited time I had Saturday night could be spent learning more about the lives, endeavors, and experiences of my classmates, rather than having to get out of the way the usual “surface” information that Facebook already provided. I was truly impressed with everything everyone had been doing over the years. More importantly, I realized that the “speak to you soon” farewell would not have to ring hollow for another twenty-five years, as social media would afford an easy opportunity to maintain contact with friends and other professionals.
Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development?
I’ve said it a thousand times, and my recent experience makes the case as well: Don’t view social media negatively, or diminish its appropriate benefits. In the same vein, don’t be afraid of it, don’t pretend it doesn’t exist, and don’t think you can regulate it away with an iron fist. Do, however, embrace it, and learn how to manage it so as to reap its benefits for your company.
How can social media help you to attract valuable new employees to your work environment?
How can social media help you retain productive existing employees?
How can social media work to your advantage to help monitor your workplace and workforce, without eradicating morale and running afoul of the law?
It is to your benefit to reunite with your in-house and outside team to answer these basic questions.