Featuring Dave Kerpen, cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media and EO New York member
Here is a statistic that may astound you: Of the 7.7 billion people in the world, 4.2 billion are Internet users. And even greater than these numbers is the impact of the Internet on how we connect and communicate. Social media has taken over our lives as a primary way to stay informed, to engage and to debate.
Too often, though, our online discourse can become contentious—even mean.
Dave Kerpen wants to change this.
“Social media was supposed to enrich our lives and bring us closer, but in recent years, it’s grown toxic and divisive thanks to the rise in cyberbullying, online harassment, polarizing content, and general negativity,” Dave says.
That’s why Dave launched #BeLikeableDay, a movement to collectively change the world through kindness. “On 26 February, we’re asking everyone to take a moment to commit at least one act of kindness online—whether it’s sharing a compliment on Instagram or thanking a friend on Facebook.
Can you share the roots of #BeLikeableDay? How did you come up with the idea?
As a social media entrepreneur and author, I’ve had a front row seat to the best of social media, and the worst. Now is an opportunity to focus on the best and what can be.
As you note, social media could enrich our lives and be a tool for good. How do you suggest people discuss challenging issues online in productive and respectful ways?
When we’re masked behind our screens, it’s easy to forget that the users on the other side are real people. We should tackle challenging issues online the same way we do offline: with dignity and respect. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it in a tweet.
How do you discuss the role of social media in our social lives with your kids?
We talk about social media openly as a family—both the platforms themselves and how they make us feel. Although it can be challenging and even a little scary to let your kids explore social media, I believe that the best approach is to create as much open and honest communication as possible.
Do you believe social media platforms will evolve in the years ahead? If so, in what ways?
Yes. We’ve already seen platforms take steps to counteract cyberbullying, harassment, hate speech and fake news. Of course, there’s a lot more work to be done. But it’s not just up to the platforms themselves: If we have any chance of restoring the promise of social media and making the Internet more likeable, it’s going to take collective action from each and every one of us.
Dave Kerpen is the cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm and the founder and CEO of Likeable Local, a software platform for small businesses. Dave recently started as EO Mentorship Chair in the New York chapter.