3 Reasons Social Media and Office Christmas Parties Don’t Mix

“He’s making a list
He’s checking it twice
He’s gonna find out
Who’s naughty or nice”

  • “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

It’s upon us, whether you like it or not Christmas is just around the corner. It snuck up on you while you were getting over Halloween and let’s not even talk about Black Friday, just in case you were one of the one’s who went a little crazy in the sales. Pretty much everyone we know is already well and truly into Christmas mode, which means that the annual office party is right around the corner as well. Check your inbox. You probably have an invite waiting.

An office party is part of the tradition of Christmas for many workers, regardless of whether you’re an employee, an employer or a freelancer; and they’re not going anywhere any time soon. This is good thing if you like the people at your job. Not so much if you can’t stand your fellow employees and would rather be locked in a dark room with Wham’s “Last Christmas” on repeat and “Home alone” on mute in the background (Who needs the words, we all know them off by heart….”Merry Christmas, you filthy animal”). Either way, you have been sent an invite and it’ll look weird if you’re not there, so you’re going to have to deal with them, like it or not.

Christmas parties are a little bit like team-building away-days – they are awkward, drawn out, and they tend to leave pretty much everyone involved feeling just a bit dead on the inside the following morning. There’s no sense in making things worse than they have to be, and nothing says “career suicide” like posting inappropriate content on Social Media. Sure, you are probably sober as you read this, but you probably won’t be after knocking back 3 or 4 surprisingly alcoholic eggnogs, and that is the time when bad decisions usually get made. So, to help you keep your job, we’ve put together 3 convincing reasons to avoid social media at this year’s Christmas get-together.

1) You Better Watch Out

There’s an old adage that says “Don’t poop where you eat”, it’s been slightly paraphrased for a family audience. It’s essentially a warning about mixing your personal and professional lives. In an age where using social media while at work is becoming the norm, these are wise words to have in the back of your mind. While virtually everyone currently in the workforce will be using Social Media, it’s still the younger generation who seem to have an obsessive need to document their every waking moment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or indeed one of the other 50,000 (poetic license applied) social media sites currently available to us on the Web. Regardless of the generation to which you belong, avoid the temptation to share your office party antics for the world to see.

One suggestion would be to just leave your phone at home so that you resist the urge to post a slightly inebriated selfie of you and your buddy Jack Daniels, but at office parties it’s not just your phone you have to worry about, it’s what other people at your party have in their pockets and handbags. If there are 100 people at your party, you can bet your next wage packet that almost 100% of them have smartphones, 100% of which have audio and video recording apps and are specifically designed to post to social media quicker than you can say “Who’s that kissing Santa Claus”. So in theory that means you’ve got an excellent chance of being the subject of a viral story, photo or an impromptu Whatsapp group, especially if you’ve taken it as a chance to drop your inhibitions and take advantage of the free bar.

Regardless of the potential to become a Youtube sensation, for the wrong reasons, acting like a fool is generally not advised when you have to face your colleagues and boss again in the New Year, but nowadays your moment of tomfoolery can become forever enshrined for all to post, share, tweet, like, retweet, heart, snapchat and/or favorite. That cheeky snog with Sam from accounts might feel like a harmless enough dare to accept, but not when literally billions of people could have access to the image within seconds, probably before you’re had time to wipe away the lipstick smudges. Your best bet is to drink in moderation, avoid inappropriate behavior, and keep an eye out for random flashes (from cameras….not Sam from accounts).

2) You Better Not Cry

To paraphrase a personal hero of mine, Homer (Simpson, rather than the Greek Poet), alcohol is the solution to – and cause of – all of the world’s problems. Often alcohol can cause loose lips and seems to render our “good judgement” sensors ineffective. This is even more true when you’re about to start two weeks of holiday bliss and don’t have the usual commute to make the following day. It often seems that the sheer presence of badly decorated jumpers and songs about reindeers creates a false sense of security. In the olden days (pre mid-90’s), we could all get away with having a rant about the boss, so long as the boss was not around to hear it (hands up who’s made that mistake). Today, though, anyone with a Twitter account can turn your drunken rant into an overheard Tweet (OH) or the latest meme to hit 9gag before you can say “Who’s nicked my candy cane.” If at this point you think we’re being a little overdramatic, just Google “Twitter wars” or “Viral rants” and you’ll see literally thousands of stories about a flippant impromptu comments that just got way out of hand.

Our best advice, again, is to be careful what you say (and how you say it), monitor your alcohol intake, and follow DigiEnable’s golden rule of Social Media, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to your Grandma. Aren’t Christmas parties’ fun?

3) He Sees You When You’re Sleeping, He Knows when You’re Awake

And finally, we have one more reason to avoid Social Media at not just your Christmas party, but anywhere you go this Christmas. Unless something drastic happens in the next couple of weeks, Christmas is going to take place on the 25th December, and it’s likely to stay on that date until the Solar System explodes or TV channels decide there’s a better day to broadcast “The Snowman”. Santa knows this. You know this, and you know who else knows this? Criminals. If you want to increase your chances of being robbed this Christmas, make sure you use the “Check In” feature on Facebook everywhere you go.

Unless you check your Facebook settings on a regular basis or have been to one of our Social Media workshops (shameless plug), your privacy settings are probably a little out of date or have reset themselves to default. You post things thinking that only friends and family will see them, but often that’s just not the case. Criminals know how to use Facebook as well. Try not to make it too easy for them to rob your house by broadcasting, in real time, that you are not home. If you’ve got no TV on Christmas Day, how will you engage in the true meaning of Christmas…Dr Who!

That is basically what happens every time you “Check In” on Facebook. Many people still find it a strange feature that is like sticking a note on your front door to tell anyone who is passing that nobody’s home. Even if your privacy settings are set at the most secure level possible, you still are not totally safe, because (and answer this question honestly) how many of your Facebook friends do you even know anymore?

Facebook has become a strange place where we seem obsessed about telling people where we are and how much fun we’re having. There’s no reason, other than a festive smidgen of narcissism to tell the world that you’re having a night out. For that matter, you’ll probably find that the vast majority of friends don’t really care and will skip over the post of your first drink, followed by your second and eventually a table full of empties. Without trying to sound like the Grinch, Facebook would be a much nicer place if you didn’t check in at every supermarket, pub and coffee shop you stop off at for a Christmas Snowball Eggnog Turkey Infused Latte. “Checking in” is a great habit to break, you could even consider it a New Year’s resolution….please.

Social Media, like Christmas parties, is not an inherently bad thing. It’s what we do with it that matters. The office party might feel like a place to let your hair down and relax, but it only seems that way. You’re still an employee, a contractor or a boss, and people are watching you every step of the way. You’re not going to get away with the cheeky kiss, the suggestive selfie or the out and out rant without feeling the repercussions in January. Have fun, enjoy yourself, but be aware of what and who is around you. Christmas parties may only last for 4-5 hours, but that cheeky flash of your bottom as the clock strikes midnight may become your colleague’s computer wallpaper for the majority of 2016.

Merry Christmas smiley

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