Yesterday I learned about a new app that was created specifically to allow people to send their "friends" mean messages on Instagram while cloaked in anonymity. The premise is pretty simple: you can anonymously nominate someone on Instagram and a bot will tag them in a photo criticizing them for sharing too many photos of dogs, babies, food, vacations, etc. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that we definitely need more ways for people to easily and anonymous bully and put down others online. Oh wait, no. That's the exact opposite of what we need. As offensive as the standalone concept is, the fact it was conceived by an advertising agency is what really hit me in the heart. (And no, I'm not going to name the app or agency here, because I don't feel either deserves the plug.)
Working in the creative industry, I am fortunate to be surrounded by passionate, bright world-changers on a daily basis. I'm proud to call them my peers, mentors and friends. This industry is a collective of big hearts and people committed to paying it forward however they can. People who have dedicated their time and talents to boosting up businesses that want to do good and put a ding in the universe.
I am also acutely aware this is an industry riddled with stereotypes ascribed to us by the outside world. Turn on any given episode of Mad Men and you'll find it there. In film, the "ad guy" is always some slimy, underhanded, snake-in-a-suit lacking anything resembling a moral compass. Those of us who actually work in the industry do our best to dispel those misconceptions by doing our best to do good in the world when we get out of bed each day.
Here is what I can tell you: our job wakes us in the night. It follows us into the shower, taps us on the shoulder over a cup of coffee and hitches a ride on weekend road trips. It's first thing in the morning and last thing at night. There's no clocking in or out. What we do follows us wherever we go, because it is a part of us. We are digging in the dirt, up to our elbows and down in the trenches with people and causes we believe in. We've got our sights set on doing something that is greater than any one of us. That's a lofty goal and awesome responsibility.
With this in mind, I'm sure the developers of the aforementioned app didn't have bad intentions when they came up with the idea. I'd guess it was just an off-kilter attempt at humor taken a notch too far. (And there are probably people out there who find it funny.) But I can't help but wonder if they've been tuned into what is going on in the world around us. I have to wonder if they've ever been bullied or know anyone who has been. I wonder if they have children who are afraid to go to school in the morning or cry themselves to sleep at night. I wonder what might have happened if they had opted to use their brainpower and talents to create something capable of spreading goodness instead of snark.
The reality is that apps come and go. This won't even be remembered on the flip side of the weekend. But you know what will? The kindness you choose to show to someone today.
To you, the person on the other end of this blog post, hi. I may not be able to develop an app to make this easier or more fun for you, but what I can do is challenge you to be your higher self. Do something good for the universe today. Boost someone up. Smile. Say hello. Make eye contact. Hold a door. Send a text of appreciation. Write a letter of gratitude. Tell someone what they're doing right instead of what they're doing wrong.
After all, a shift in perspective is all it takes to change the conversation and flip things from bad to good.