Making a difference

This is such a thought provoking video.

Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former vice president for user growth, expresses his concerns over social media and the irresponsible use of venture capital to fuel the companies that have propelled it to stratospheric heights.

He makes the usual criticisms about quick dopamine hits and creating a vacuous, false image of perfection but goes on to discuss having an impact on what he can control and it makes me think.

What do I control?

I have already taken control over my own immediate sphere: me. I’ve stepped back and reassessed, but what next?

My eldest daughter is 18 next year so we’re past the point where I can be telling my kids what to do. They can make their own decisions.

I have a blog, a platform but, as much as I may voice my concerns, the impact is limited. I may intersect with others whose concerns are along similar lines (it is human nature to seek out complementary and complimentary voices after all) but still the reach is small.

The internet was designed as an equal playing field but, let’s face it, that’s not the case. Take this point in the video:

”In the absence of capital you’re irrelevant. With capital you’re powerful.”

Palihapitiya states that it is a moral obligation to “go after the money” and, once you have it, use it to promote your world view.

“Don’t sell out!”

Some just want to be rich, some crave fame for fame’s sake. Others want to make a difference but often feel unable unless they are one (or both) of the above.

So it becomes a question of scale: what can we achieve with what we’ve got and how can we pitch that against those who have decidedly more?

While it’s nice to see some want to give back after gaining sufficient wealth it’s a shame that they must do so from a position of guilt having benefited so handsomely from the very systems that they now criticise.

Many don’t see the way things are as toxic; they don’t appear to engage with anyone who expresses a political or cultural opinion - a sad fact in itself. But the problems extend way beyond the divisions created in society, the factions and bubbles we find ourselves in.

And I ask myself again:

  • what do I control?
  • what influence can I have?
  • should I try to?
  1. I don’t think we have to do things at scale to make a difference. We all have a sphere of influence (family, friends, workmates, neighbours), and that’s where I think our greatest responsibility lies. Although we may only influence a few people, they each have a sphere of influence, and it ripples out. Don’t underestimate small and local.
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