Back to School

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Is it just us or is your Facebook feed filled with pictures of kids (of all ages) returning to school? “First day back to school” pictures are all the rage right now and are blowing up the feeds of the entire NLED team.

We found ourselves chatting about this trend earlier this week while scrolling past all the smiles, new backpacks, and DIY chalkboard signs. We all picked up on something in those smiles. They were not just the result of a parent directing them (into a forced moment) to “say cheese” for the camera. There was a genuine excitement on their faces. This is the excitement knowing they are about to see their friends, experience something real, like a game of tag at recess, or sitting together at lunch laughing about something that happened in their last class. Sure, we know the older kiddos have been SnapChatting, Facebook stalking, and Instgram-selfie-one-upping all summer, but this…this is different. No longer at technology’s beck and call, they are in for the real deal–sharing moments, live and in person with their friends and peers. And it came to us, we see these same excited smiles on the faces of colleagues and peers coming together at live events. (Now granted, we consider networking breaks our version of tag at recess and rely on a few glasses of wine to ensure laughter continues at the dinner table. I digress…)

Who knew “First day back to school” photos were going to open up a dialogue about the fascinating relationship between technology’s presence in our world and the power of live, human interaction. A balance, and challenge, the event industry knows all too well.

There has been a resurgence of industry discussions questioning if live events are still necessary, and if companies are receiving the right ROI for hosting them now that technology is here to connect all of us. We know it costs a lot of money to produce successful events. We also know employee engagement (and especially retention) are hot-button issues for those same companies right now. Here’s the kicker; the biggest ROI that comes from a live event is making work personal again for employees, connecting on a human level, resulting in inspired work and further engagement. Or, perhaps we can look at it a bit more casually. Should restaurants get rid of their dining rooms now that we have GrubHub? Shouldn’t we just shut down nightclubs  now that we have Spotify? How about we close schools because we have digital books and virtual tutors? No, no and NO! As much as I enjoy sharing a meal with a pal over Skype, I’d much rather sit together and share a meal in a restaurant (I’ll venture to say you would prefer the same).

What do we glean from all of this? Technology is a fantastic, necessary tool, but as human beings, we require human connection.  It is this connection that creates  significant impact and lasting memories.

–Let’s take a moment, however, to acknowledge the fantastic irony that you are reading this on a blog, written on a computer, which arrived to you via email or social media. Ahhh, what a moment.–

Here at Next Level Event Design, we have the privilege of playing a unique role in all of this. We have the pleasure of calling everyone out to recess! It’s our job to create environments for human connection to take place. So, as the children head out for a new year of experiences, let’s continue our own journey making lasting impressions and personal connections by shaking a hand and sharing an experience. I’m not saying we need to stop using technology, I’m just saying it is far more rewarding to hit “like” if you were a part of the experience to begin with!  “Say Cheese!”

Photo by US Department of Education/ CC BY