Social Media, Kindness and Culture

So here’s an interesting debate for you. Could social media be used to change a culture? This was the question, and idea posed by Grant McCracken, in his article ‘Could a Social-Media Tool Increase Kindness.”

In the article Grant uses Boston as his example. Speaking from his own experience, and in his own words:

“I was surprised by how standoffish everyone in my apartment building was. We would see each other twice a day in the elevator, but we’d rarely exchange a word of greeting or acknowledgment. It was so bad, I remember thinking to myself at one point: Maybe this building is in the witness relocation program, and people are afraid they’ll be recognized.”

He went on to say; “Normally, I’d say the situation was beyond our individual or collective control.” And then goes on to explain from there about his findings through a couple of guys who set out to prove him wrong – with social media.

As it turns out, these couple of guys are on the verge of launching a social media tool called Thank Bank, which I believe is a network designed to help people express their appreciation.

There are two points that spring to mind when reading this article:

  1. What makes Thank Bank different from pressing ‘like’ on Facebook? Could a social network specifically for expressing thanks be enough..? And do I really want to sign up to another platform without good reason.
  2. Surely the increase of kindness comes from an individual, or group decision to do something – and not a social media tool. If this were case then, I’d suggest we have much bigger problems at hand…

Personally, I am all for the idea of social media encouraging social good and increasing kindness. Social media is a powerful aid, which I fully support and salute the good work it has already done for individuals, family life, and business. I just believe that we must be careful not to mistake the different between our actions and the assistance of a tool in a world that has become so dependent on such smart technology.

In any case, I also believe that is more than possible to change a culture when a group of people together make a decision. On our own, I would agree with Grant, it is impossible. However, I believe there is power in a few.

To quote Margaret Mead, and American cultural anthropologist:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Read Grant’s article in full, here. Please let me know what your thoughts are on this by, posting your comments below, or connect with me on Twitter here.

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