February 4, 2020

Social Media Can Be Toxic—Here’s the First Step Towards Change

Dave Kerpen

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, our mission at Likeable has been to create a more likeable world. And we’ve done that for over a decade 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.

And here’s where you come in.

This year, on February 26, we’re asking everyone around the world to post at least one nice thing on social media. This could be complimenting a friend’s photography on Instagram, shouting out your favorite charity organization on Twitter, or leaving an unsolicited recommendation for a colleague on LinkedIn. Participating in #BeLikeableDay just means doing anything to leave social media a better place than you found it.

Last year, #BeLikeableDay reached 77 million people across traditional and social media, with participation from 45 countries around the world. The movement was backed by dozens of business leaders and influencers—such as Lori Greiner, Andy Lassner, Rachel Sklar, John Rampton, Greg Wyshynski, and Scott Harrison—as well as brands, including Bloomingdale’s, Cisco, 1-800-Flowers, 16 Handles, Happy Family Organics, Two Good Yogurt, Horizon Organic, and the NHL. It was even featured in media outlets nationwide, and we can’t wait to do it again this year.


Ready to join the movement? Sign the pledge at BeLikeableDay.com.

Tags: Best Practices, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Niche Networks, Strategy, Twitter

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