The World Wide Web just celebrated its 21st birthday a few days ago (August 7th, to be exact), and it’s changed our lives in immeasurable, positive ways. But as those of us who spend a lot of time online know, it’s not all fairy dust and pink unicorns on the Internet. Far from it. Just check out CiviliNation’s Twitter feed and Facebook account for example upon example of people unleashing vitriolic hatred, negativity and apathy online. It’s disheartening and exhausting.
So it’s nice to see efforts underway to change the tone of online discourse, efforts by those who are tired of what they’re seeing and who want the Web to be an embracing environment where differences can be managed in a mature and respectful way. Real Simple magazine, for example, held Be Nice on the Internet week from January 9-12. It hosted a contest where readers could submit e-card ideas for friendlier spins on common online terms such as F*** You. See this fun submission by Alicia Mickes and Khaiersta English:
And Frank Eliason, Senior Vice President of Social Media for Citibank, is asking people to go further. He’s designated August 14 as #PositivelySocial day and explains the thinking behind it:
We used to think the best was ahead of us, but due to the economy, negativity from politicians (in my view this is from all sides of the political spectrum), and other shifts within society (including social media), many of us have lost that belief. It is time we as a society start bringing that back and it starts with us. I think we can easily do that by starting with a day to recognize the positive things in our life, even things companies are doing well and others around us. I picked August 14, 6 months after Valentine’s day. (emphasis added)
In a follow-up post he explains what his personal six #positivelysocial beliefs are:
- Respect Others – This to me is the number one issue. We all are passionate about our beliefs and often we express them in a manner that is closed to others, or sometimes downright cruel to others….
- Welcoming Dialogue on the Topic – The greatest aspect of social is the fact that everything is open for discussion, so when posting, be open to the conversation, in fact welcome it!…
- Sharing Links that Live up to being #PositivelySocial – …We should not share links to sites that treat people in a manner we would not want to see them treated.
- Take a Stand – If we were at a cocktail party and someone was being insulting to others, or unsocial in any way, someone would usually tell them to knock it off or leave….We should also make clear to community style websites that it is important that their content be appropriate and comments or discussions are managed in a way that does not take away from the community as a whole.
- Truth and Facts Reign Supreme – The web is filled with innuendo, speculation, and down right errors. The key is verifying information prior to sharing….
- Share the Good Too – It is easy to share the negative….At the same time if you are always sharing the negative people may lose sight as to who you are, try to share the good too. I have also found brands want to know what they are doing well so they can strive to do more of it. Of course this is not just about brands, recognize each other. That can be a powerful message to those around us all!
His #PositivelySocial idea is resonating with a lot of people, as seen in the sample Twitter screenshots below:
So, what will you be doing online on August 14th?