The original purpose of social media, back when it began around 13 years ago, was to connect friends and family—and it has absolutely done that. It’s brought all of humanity closer together by serving as a space where people can share stories, listen to the experiences of others, and build communities. But, as we all know too well, social media has also shown a much darker side.
From sensationalized headlines to data breaches to perfectly edited and filtered photos of people’s lives, it’s no surprise that 41 percent of Gen Z social media users say that social media makes them feel sad, anxious, or depressed. And it’s been proven that the “compare and despair” attitude of social media exacerbates mental health issues.
The majority of teens have come across racist or sexist hate speech on social media. Nearly 43 percent of teens have been bullied online, and 41 percent of all Americans have experienced online harassment. It’s clear that even though social media was supposed to enrich our lives and bring us closer together, it’s only grown more toxic and divisive.
As a school board member and parent in my town of Port Washington, New York, I’ve witnessed firsthand some of the darkness—from cyberbullying to online threats of school violence to unhealthy TikTok obsession. I’ve seen children I know hurt over social media.
Social media has made it easier than ever to spread hate. But it’s just as easy to spread joy.
From the very beginning, the mission of Likeable Media—the company I co-founded with my wife, Carrie Kerpen—has been to create a more likeable world. For more than a decade, we’ve been delivering on that mission by helping brands create smart and likeable content that is not only valuable for consumers, but drives business results as well.
But we knew that there was a lot more we could do—both as an organization and as individuals—because social media is about much more than just branded content. So last year, we created #BeLikeableDay: a global movement dedicated to making social media a more positive environment through collective acts of kindness online.
Participating in #BeLikeableDay just means doing anything to leave social media a better place than you found it. So, this year, we’re asking everyone around the world to post at least one nice thing on social media on February 26.
Here are just five ways you can join the movement and spread kindness online:
1. Pay a friend a compliment. It’s so easy to feel self-conscious and insecure on social media, where everyone is perfect (or at least tries to be). Give someone a confidence boost with a simple compliment or message of encouragement.
2. Promote someone else’s work. All of those posts sharing “some personal news” are well and good, but what if we took a break from the self-promotion to sing someone else’s praises instead? Whose work has spoken to you recently? Post about it.
3. Give an unsolicited recommendation. Who are the top three people you’ve loved working with the most during your career? Make their day and publish a recommendation on LinkedIn that explains why anyone else would be lucky to work with them as well.
4. Spread the word about your favorite charity organization. Everyone has a cause they feel strongly about. Take a few minutes to share the story of why you support that cause and shout out your favorite charity organization that supports it too.
5. Share gratitude for people in your life. In a sea of memes and political commentary, break through with a message of positivity by expressing gratitude for five people in your life. Not only will you make them feel great, but you’ll feel better too.
In an age when cyberbullying, fake news, and negative headlines dominate, this is our chance to change things. Instead of clicking the like button, let’s actually make social media more likeable.
Ready to join the movement? Sign the pledge at BeLikeableDay.com.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.