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By Being Connected, What Are We Giving Up?

Earlier this week, The Boston Globe featured an article highlighting that incoming freshman are using Facebook to select their roommates. Something about this development just isn’t sitting right with me. I understand that there is a certain appeal to having a choice in who you live with for your first year of college, but at the same time, isn’t part of the “fun” of going away to college being pushed outside of our comfort zones?

Now, I realize that freshman roommates aren’t always glamorous. Rather for many, freshman roommate experience lends itself to learning experiences, some difficult and some hilarious (once time passes, of course).

Let’s be honest, how many incoming freshman do you know who would be willing to choose to live with someone who has completely different interests? My underlying concern is that by looking at the information potential roommates are posting on Facebook – music tastes, companies they “like,” favorite activities, etc., others are able to decide whether they want to be roommates based on their similar interests. In doing so, people are not allowing for the “random” matches and are potentially limiting themselves to a bubble of shared interests. Inadvertently, this behavior goes against what college is about – pushing individual’s thinking beyond their personal bubbles and getting out of a comfort zones. Bursting bubbles can get messy – but aren’t the best learning experiences messy?  Besides, when things get messy with a freshman roommate, isn’t it more fun to blame the housing dean than your own Facebook stalking?

Personally, my freshman roommate experience was an interesting one in the second smallest double on campus (142 sq. ft.). I’ll spare you the details, but I ended up having a different roommate each semester. Through my freshman rooming experience, I learned a lot of valuable lessons about myself and living with other people. If I had the chance to select my roommates I probably wouldn’t have selected to live with either of my freshman roommates, but I definitely appreciate the experience I had living with both.

While we’re not all going to college for the first time in a few weeks, this example raises important questions for me: by being so connected via Facebook and other social networks, how else might I be limiting myself? And while still being connected, how can I continue to break out of my comfort zone?

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