Social Media is Destroying Society and its a Global Problem
Speaking at the Stanford Graduate School of Business back in November, Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebooks former vice president for user growth, said;
“It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” he said. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”
Social media is creating a society that confuses ‘truth and popularity’
The problem is not isolated to Facebook, he said, citing other social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The ability to connect and share information so quickly — as well as the instant gratification people give and receive over their posts — has resulted in some negative consequences, according to Palihapitiya. “Everybody else has to soul-search a little bit more about what you’re willing to do,” he said. “Because your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”
“We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection, because we get rewarded in these short-term signals — hearts, likes, thumbs up — and we conflate that with value and we conflate it with truth. And instead, what it is is fake, brittle popularity that’s short-term and leaves you even more, admit it, vacant and empty before you did it. . . . Think about that, compounded by 2 billion people.”
Palihapitiya encouraged students to take a “hard break from some of these tools.”
After leaving Facebook, Palihapitiya went on to found Social Capital, a venture capital fund focusing on education and health-care businesses. Social Capital is described as “a partnership of philanthropists, technologists and capitalists utilizing venture capital as a force to create value and change on a global scale.” Palihapitiya takes inspiration from Warren Buffett’s model of investing in and acquiring companies for the long term.
Growing up in a dysfunctional household on welfare helped shape Chamath Palihapitiya’s outlook on money. From making $4.55 an hour at Burger King to managing Social Capital’s $1.8 billion worth of assets, its his resilience and approach to problem solving that have defined him. Palihapitiya says that becoming a multi-trillionaire will be the result of solving big problems like climate change. Nothing worth doing is easy. Its taking a point of view and being methodical. Think broadly about building things that can stand the test of time. Working on the big problems, on the hard things; If it works it will mean something. It will mean winning bigger longer term. If it works, its where all of the money is.
Be motivated to not be motivated by what everyone else thinks about you.
Money As An Instrument For Change
Palihapitiya has set ambitious and bold 50 year goals for Social Capital. By 2045, he’s working to:
- Employ 10 million people
- Businesses to positively affect 25% of the worlds population
- $1 Trillion in value
The more ambitious the project, the longer it will take, and the harder it will be to accomplish. I can speak to that, probably better than anyone. Elon Musk once said that, “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.” My reuccuring dream last year was that I was screaming, but had no voice. It was also Musk who said, “If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way.”
Time to re-evaluate
The kind of positive change we need on so many levels, in so many communities; will require us to reevaluate our priorities, and start connecting with one another again. Not just those in our social media echo chambers, but also with the people in our community that we may not agree with. When open minded people of character and intelligence communicate about issues, problems start getting solved.
The Greatest Opportunity in Human History
Capitalism works so well because it rewards efficiencies, and is built on incentive. Market efficiencies will evolve more in the next 10 years, then they have in the 241 years since Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations. Transformative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, the Internet of things (IOT), Autonomous Vehicles, Virtual Reality, Digital Traceability, and Blockchain will forever change how we consume goods and services. While simultaneously, as a people, our incentive structure is evolving as well; modern consumers are overwhelmingly driven by social impact when making purchasing decisions. This would not surprise Smith, as he believed, as do I, that market forces can alleviate poverty.
The global consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) sector, will nearly double in size from $8 trillion in 2014, to $14 trillion by 2025. Yet, CPG companies lack the relationships with consumers that they will need to disintermediate retailers with auto-replenishment.
Online sales in the U.S. will grow from 10% to 40% market penetration over the next 10 years creating $938 billion in new market value, yet brand loyalty is in decline, and most small businesses are not prepared for the shift.
Small business America donates on average 6% of gross revenue to charity. The Fortune 500 spent $15 Billion last year in the US and UK on Corporate Social Responsibility; yet currently there is no quantifiable way for businesses to utilize their tax deductible charity donation dollars to connect with consumers and drive sales.
The value proposition is changing. We’re leveraging technology to make more informed purchasing decisions, and we’re overwhelmingly driven by social impact. Yet there are no commerce platforms that empower consumers to direct Brand CSR at the point of sale. Until now….
We connect consumers with high quality brands of cost savings and Impact. Our platform empowers the consumer to direct brand impact at the point of sale in a transparent, community focused, relationship building social process.
Problem Solving Requires Ownership
The reason a great many of our problems are not matched with the resources required for a solution is fairly simple: there is no ownership. We don’t go around solving other people’s problems. If it’s not your problem, if you don’t own it, then you have no interest in finding a solution.
Challenges That Unite
The World Health Organization reports that for $10 Billion we could provide access to clean drinking water for the 1.8 Billion who currently drink contaminated water on a daily basis. The price tag to end world hunger? $30 Billion. If those sound like large numbers, they’re not. We live in a $19 Trillion Dollar annual consumer economy here in the United States. The global economy hit $107 Trillion last year.
Its not a lack of resources, its a lack of will, and coordination. If you show people a problem, then show them a solution, they will be moved to act.
Most of the big challenges we face, like Cancer are not affiliated with the Republican or the Democratic Party. They’re not of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim faith. They don’t belong to the upper, middle, or lower class. Like each of the 15 cause groups we’ll be fundraising for on the HelpFirst Platform; its a challenge that we all face together. It’s a challenge that should unite.
The HelpFirst platform will help consumers identify community challenges, then empower those consumers to impact identified challenges through their purchases.
Increasingly, consumers are looking to become involved in their community and make a difference locally; through the businesses they patronize and the brands they purchase from. A recent Nielsen Consumer Study found a majority of consumer 55% will pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. 52% said they made at least one purchase in the past six months from one or more socially responsible brands, and 67% of those surveyed said they prefer to work for socially responsible companies.
We Progress Thru Our Technology
Steve Jobs liked to quote a Scientific American article to illustrate the importance of tools. Someone measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet, and determined the condor was the most efficient creature, as it used the least energy to move a kilometer.
Humans ranked a rather unimpressive third of the way down the list in the rankings. Until someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And a man on a bicycle blew the condor away.
We build and use tools to problem solve. They help us reach greater potential and progress. Jobs, ever the consummate salesman, would then point out that computers were the most remarkable tool that we’d ever created. They were the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.
With the HelpFirst platform, we’re working to build technology that will improve lives through empowerment, cost savings, and education.
We’re getting a new set of tools
Artificial Intelligence could double annual economic growth rates by 2035 by changing the nature of work and spawning a new relationship between man and machine. Once the impact of AI has been absorbed into the economy, it is projected to yield the highest economic benefits for the United States, increasing annual growth rate from 2.6 percent to 4.6 percent by 2035, translating to an additional USD $8.3 trillion in gross value added (GVA).
The digital transformation will have many negative consequences as well. Up to 40% of the US workforce could lose their jobs by 2030. The mass unemployment and retail space repurposing that will affect the entire country will require a new partnership mindset between corporations, consumers, and communities. Responsible, responsive leadership and collaborative action through public-private partnerships will be vital. This is why we are structured as a Public Benefit Corporation, to facilitate these vital connections.
We have the opportunity to make the new market work for all of us, to improve our society through the market value proposition that the HelpFirst Commerce Platform facilitates. If we work together, we can set civilization sized goals, and achieve them
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
If you create value for others, they’ll create value in you. There is a process for everything; in business as in life; growth only comes from renewal. Inspiration drives innovation; innovation drives growth; growth facilitates prosperity; prosperity leads to unity.
Most consumers do not have the resources to fund research or support effective local non-profit organizations that serve and strengthen our communities. Through the HelpFirst platform, we’ve built a process that helps consumers Identify challenges faced by their community, Educate through engagement, then Empower through commerce connections of Impact.
The true measure of our actions, is how long the good in them lasts.
Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it.
I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.
There's a way to do it better - find it.
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