How Twitter Could be Leading a Wave of Social Media Philanthropy
Like many others, especially in my age group, I’m a little bit obsessed with social media. Everyday I hop onto Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to scroll through my feeds of friends, family, and news to stay up to date and interact with the world around me. It’s perfectly normal for their to be negativity on my feed, which I am sure is the same for most people. Twitter, more so than other social media platforms, has a reputation for being extremely toxic, especially given the current circumstances. All across the app people are venting and arguing about every topic from politics to their personal lives and strangers are able to interact with these outpourings. This is what makes Twitter so toxic. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram curate feeds centred on what the user searches for on their platform and who they follow. Twitter does the same to a certain extent, but there is also a lot more interaction beyond these parameters.
Twitter, more so than other social media platforms, has a reputation for being extremely toxic, especially given the current circumstances.
Hashtags allow people to associate their tweets with a variety of topics as well as are searchable on their own. This makes any account, regardless of its size, capable of reaching massive audiences providing that they are interested in the topic related to the hashtag. If these hashtags become particularly active then they can become ‘trending’ and it is normal for sporting news and politics to be found here. I tend to check my ‘trending’ page first every morning to see what is going on as well as to get ideas for blog and YouTube content. I expect to find topics that can be stressful and upsetting, such as political debates and global disasters, and yet lately I have been finding crumbs of positivity amongst the outpouring of negativity.
In the face of mass job loss and limited financial support, there has risen ‘Twitter philanthropy’, lead by millionaire Bill Pulte. Pulte’s model of philanthropy on Twitter is simple. People can drop their cash app ID into his comments, and he will select someone to donate some money too, with amounts ranging from $20 to $1000. It doesn’t end there, thought. His generosity encourages others to do the same, whether it is through the ‘GoFundMe’ campaigns he posts for the community to fulfil, other celebrities following his lead and doing the same for their own communities, or with other generous individuals taking it upon themselves to donate to the hopefuls in the comments. The fact that Twitter allows for greater communication between strangers than any other platform is exactly what gives it so much potential for positivity.
The fact that Twitter allows for greater communication between strangers than any other platform is exactly what gives it so much potential for positivity.
As mentioned, the hashtag and trending functions allow for people to explore new topics and reach greater levels of interaction. When Edmund O’Leary posted that he was ‘not ok’ and could anyone who say his tweet please ‘take a few seconds’ to respond, I’m sure he was not expecting to become number one trending for a whole day! Hundreds of thousands of people responded, contributing positive affirmations and pictures of cute pets all with the hope that they would make his day just a little better. The wonderful thing about Twitter, which can also be a huge negative, is that it brings people together within these trending hashtags. Whether it is a positive or negative topic, its growth continues to encourage more and more people to interact with it. For many topics this is problematic as it spreads the negativity. But for cases like #Edmund it can be a bright light of hope in the darkness of social media.
Bill Pulte and Edmund are examples of how kindness begets kindness, especially within Twitter because of how it functions. Even if someone only gets involved with these ‘trends’ with the hope of growing their own platform, influence, and reputation, they are still providing good and contributing to the movement towards kindness. Hopefully, we will see more of these viral positive trends moving forward and social media can be rebranded as a place of generosity and kindness.