Last week the VP of Men’s Merchandising at JCrew had to lay off 175 workers. He did several of the layoffs personally. After a tough day, it is understandable to want to head out and grab a drink. Alejandro Rhett did just that. And more. He partied with a few others that survived the layoffs and snapped selfies and added hashtags like: #hungergames, #maytheoddsbeeverinyourfavor. Someone that knew of the layoffs decided to forward his tasteless and inconsiderate posts and the rest is social media viral history. This 31 year old VP had a huge lack of judgement and is learning his lesson the hard way.
The kids I have at home, and most of their friends, could very easily make the same mistake in the future. They have all grown up with devices, yet do not poses the capacity to truly understand the power of social media. The developing workforce at home lives in the social media, more than you and me, and has loads of online experience. But do they get the potential ramifications of pressing send/post/tweet? The lessons need to start now and Alejandro is an example of what not to do.
Conveying social media responsibilities is difficult with kids because their worlds are small. Their worlds consist of a home, school, and a limited social circle. They have no real concept of the expansive world of Twitter, Instagram and iChat. How can the impact of their actions be relayed in a message that resonates with youth? Along with Mr.- JCrew- VP example, here are a few ideas:
- Go where your kids go. Most youth are not limited to Facebook like many adults. They communicate through Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Explore their platforms of communication.
- Explain the danger. Parents do a great job of talking about safety in terms of seatbelts and strangers. What about safety in the social media world?
- Explain the embarrassment. Illustrate a story that would expose them to their entire school or something in their world. Would they still send that picture or text?
- Show them. Show them how to use social media responsibly. Let them see your Facebook page, Twitter feeds and Instagram accounts. If you can’t open them up to your children, then perhaps you need to consider your own actions.
- Do a little bit of homework. There are a ton of sources that help parents with this topic.
Two days after the story about Alejandro broke, he was fired from JCrew. Hopefully he gained valuable humility and discretion. This story will soon be buried in the news feed but every time a new employer does a Google search on Alejandro, this incident will appear. I’m sure he is thinking the hashtags just weren’t worth it.