The Private Equity for Families Blog

What If Facebook Were At Woodstock

Harvard is among the most selective universities in the world. Gaining admittance is a passport to prosperity and elite networks. The waiting list must be as long as the line at the Apple Store at 9:59am on Saturday morning.  How, then, can ten of the most brilliant and well qualified young people in the world lose a place in the class of 2021 because of inappropriate opinions?

No Public Record of Stupidity

In 1969 when I was admitted to college there were only a few ways you could reverse the good fortune of your anticipated matriculation. You could fail to graduate from your high school. You could commit a crime.  You could get lost at Yazgur’s farm never to be seen again.  Even if you were expelled from high school you often could still get your final transcript and the colleges were no wiser.  Everyone expected your opinions to be stupid, uninformed and controversial.  Just ask your parents.  But no one had a public record of those opinions.  Mark Zuckerberg changed that with Facebook which started innocently and has morphed into a powerful tool for marketers and an even more powerful enforcer of conformity.  Young people everywhere are trusting the public forum of social media to interpret their changeling character in the best possible light.  This naiveté is startling to me.  In all forms of social media many colleges and universities find a willing enforcer of group thought and political correctness. The Facebook effect is responsible for major changes in how colleges run from the building names on campus to the mascots and even the relationships between men and women.  Facebook powers a god squad of self-appointed student judges who wield the power of social media to ostracize and create pariahs.  Young people crave inclusion and acceptance so once you are out; there is little chance to get back in.  Social life often stops for the outliers.

Dumbest Smart Guys

In 2017 the power of social media is demonstrated by the Harvard admission denials.  The original user group for Harvard incoming freshman was pretty much what Mark Zuckerberg had envisioned with more than 100 incoming freshman exchanging ideas and observations in a social media attempt at getting to know each other.  The 10 offenders must be the dumbest smart people on the planet because they obviously thought freedom of expression was protected in the next level of that innocent forum.  They revealed themselves to the world as bigots, racists, sexists and they paid the price as they should.

Why Go Public

I have avoided Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and most forms of social media because I see it as an intrusion on my privacy.  Why would I voluntarily publish information about me, my family, my friends, my movements, my grandchildren, my religion, my politics and my vacations?  Off the grid is actually far preferable in a world of cyber-crime, social media punishment and banishment, kidnapping and ransom, identity theft, sexual predation, and hacking and phishing.  This is common sense.  When is going public in a cyber world ever better than remaining private?  Obviously, it is also not a good idea to express your opinion before you arrive at college if that opinion is likely to offend tender sensibilities.  If you want to be popular I recommend a standard litany of standard positions on favorite topics like the travel ban on Muslims, the transcendent rights of any and all minorities, the Russians hacked my high school transcript, the college founder was a slave owner and our mascot gives me nightmares. This will make you popular but you might have sold your soul to Facebook? If Facebook had existed in 1969 the incoming classes of every college on the east coast would have been light by at least 10 men and women.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free


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Rob McCreary

Rob McCreary has more than 40 years of transactional experience as an attorney, investment banker and private equity fund manager, and has spent his career in building entrepreneurial organizations with successful track records Founder and chairman of CapitalWorks, he is responsible for developing and maintaining senior relationships with investors and portfolio governance.

This blog represents the views of Rob McCreary and do not reflect those of CapitalWorks or its employees. This blog is not intended as investment advice. Any discussion of a specific security is for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon as indicative of such security’s current or future value. Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before making an investment decision.

Private Equity for Families Blog | CapitalWorks Private Equity Cleveland Ohio

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