Unfortunately, with the ability to be anonymous online people often never have to see the other side of what they post online. We see it everyday, sometimes highlighted with humor, as in the case of Jimmy Kimmel having celebrities read what people tweet about them and take it in good humor. We also see or read daily about people being harassed to the breaking point by total strangers with nothing better to do than to troll the Internet looking for victims.
We laugh, we share and we forget. However, in the case of a recent PSA created by Canadian Safe School Network and the advertising agency St. John, kids reading mean tweets about themselves sheds a harsh light on the effects of cyberbullying.
Recently a Canadian firm (Leo Burnett, Toronto) did a series of PSAs that show the ugly side of Twitter. They did a take on the Jimmy Kimmel bit but this time injecting real people, facing real issues. In the PSA you see homeless people reading what total strangers are writing about them and as a result we get to see the faces of less fortunate people who are just trying to get by. We get to feel for a moment the effects of hate.
In both cases, we take a seemingly harmless act and magnify it to show the dark side of social media.
However, it is not all gloom and doom. It is refreshing to see many companies taking back the Internet and making positive change. A website, “Raising the Roof” is offering ways that we can help the homeless. Twitter is teaching the homeless in San Francisco to code in exchange for a tax break, and even young people are making a difference by coming up with great ideas to prevent bullying before it starts.
My hope is that people will do what is right, without the incentive. And it’s great to see companies doing their part to make the web a little more friendly. What are some of your favorite stories about people or brands doing good?