Social Responsibility and Social Media: Can They Function Together?

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A connected world has its benefits. And it has its downfalls. While the idea of social responsibility has been around for a while, its lessons remain important today.

In my opinion, social responsibility is about the unspoken rules of humanity. We stop when the light is red. We return a lost wallet to its owner. We help the less fortunate.

While these “laws of the land” are sometimes tested, stressed, ignored and broken, the masses generally follow suit and, as a result, maintain society’s balance. It’s supporting the greater good for the greater forward movement. Progress!

For example, I choose to participate in my community’s recycle program. I believe it’s the responsible thing to do because I am a consumer and I’d like to minimize my carbon footprint on this planet as much as possible.

But not everyone believes the way I do. And that’s totally fine. Free will is a gift. People use it differently. However, I truly think that each individual in the world has an obligation to act compassionately to benefit society at large.

Oftentimes, the definition of “social responsibility” is mired and smudged by politics. One group chooses to go down one pathway, so the opposing group—by merely the principle of it—travels via the opposite pathway. It’s childish, but it happens. Not a lot gets done as a result. And life goes on.

Here’s the real important question to ask and answer: Is the concept of social responsibility losing ground in the world of social media?

For decades, social responsibility has focused purely on advancing goals by performing individual activities that collectively progress the economy and preserve our fragile ecosystem. In essence, this idea is about creating and retaining positive in-person relationships. It becomes the “checks and balances” of the overall system.

Toss social media into the equation and the idea of social responsibility changes, ever so slightly. Via the Internet, many people can remain faceless, nameless and obscure. They can post frivolous comments in social threads, create fake accounts and completely ignore common decency. Often, the consequences of this behavior can be rather negative and can be harmful to others.

Companies often enact “social media programs” to control how employees use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This protects the brand and the message. It’s a legislative order in a world that is difficult to control. It’s social responsibility at the corporate level.

But people outside of the corporate world can’t be controlled. They are free to do as they please.

In a connected world, autonomy is the new currency. But autonomy should be used wisely. As my college professor, Dr. Willard Tate, once said: “Your greatest power is your power to choose.”

Social responsibility can exist within our social media world. The options are endless—from a simple tweet to developing an app to encourage positive behaviors.

It all comes down to this… big or small, will your social media footprint yield a positive impact on the world?

#socialfootprint