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Don’t just ask CAN I, ask SHOULD I, as well.

May 4th, 2020 by Kenneth Abrahams

As quarantine and in some cases, isolation, drags on, more and more people are doing things virtually. Birthdays and holidays are now celebrated with laptops and iPads instead of with hugs, kisses and handshakes. Friday afternoons the bars are closed but Zoom rooms are full of virtual Happy Hour revelers. Even signature lifetime events like weddings and Bar Mitzvahs are being celebrated virtually, bringing friends and family together through the internet. Some of this is driven by a need for many of us, to stay connected with friends and family but let’s be honest, some is purely commercially driven.

Businesses that could continue to operate were forced to change not only the way they operated but what they offer as well. Restaurants went to takeout only, some selling groceries or beer and wine where allowed. Grocery stores ramped up their home delivery and personal shopper services to help those that were homebound or uncomfortable being out. Insurance companies began offering discounts to consumers as cars sat idle in the driveway. Every promotional company began selling hand sanitizer and masks. And of course, entertainment companies like FUN began to explore and offer a slate of virtual programs along with direct ship DIY products.

We all began pushing out what we could, often without thinking about what we should do. Some organizations stopped thinking about things like does this match the mission or purpose of the organization, is this a benefit to our clients, is this helpful at this critical time. Lucky for me, there are people at FUN who challenge me to ask those critical questions. There were things that our clients asked if we could do, technically we could, but the question was raised, should we? Did it make sense to fill UPS and FedEx trucks with bears, paint canvases or DIY chalkboards when there was a high demand for delivery services to provide critical items like masks, gloves, food and medical supplies? Ultimately, we decided it didn’t. We may need to revisit this as things begin to open and our clients are asking us to provide these goods and services but, for now, it feels like we made the right decision.

Vendors are not the only people struggling with the could vs. should debate. High Schools and Colleges are exploring virtual graduation/commencement celebrations. Although their hearts are in the right place, this is a terrible idea. People attend these ceremonies for very specific reasons. To be with classmates one last time, to celebrate their accomplishments both individually and as a group, to walk across that stage as their name is called to grab that diploma, to cheer for family members and friends as they cross the stage and of course to celebrate with family, friends and fellow classmates. All that is lost when you move to a virtual celebration. Several schools rolled out virtual commencement plans only to rescind them when the students pushed back, hard. I hate to tell you, but the many commencement speeches by administrators and speakers are not the highlights for most students or their families.

Fundraisers are another area that people are trying to find what works and what doesn’t. This is an unprecedented time in our country, in our world, with millions unemployed and millions more struggling to make ends meet. The need for charitable giving has never been greater. Couple that with a downturn in donations and volunteer availability, means that many charitable organizations are stretched farther than ever before. Many in person fundraiser have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed. Some groups have moved their events to the virtual realm, but they need to be careful. Just because we can have people hang out virtually, doesn’t mean that we should. We should still do these events, the money along with the awareness are sorely needed, but change the format to fit the situation we find ourselves in today.

I apologize ahead of time for the privilege that I am about to show. Clearly moving to this high tech, virtual new reality has left many out in the cold. In some respects, this Pandemic couldn’t have come at a better time in our history. Many people can work remotely, some without missing a beat. Google, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Zoom have allowed us to stay connected to friends, co-workers, clients, vendors and loved ones. Remember just because technology means we can do something, it doesn’t always mean we should.

About the Author

Despite being an ambivert, Ken Abrahams does miss the face to face contact with people. He, like so many, is struggling with the balance between can and should. Thanks to the FUN Enterprises crew for keeping him sane and in check.