The Hope in Social Apps Amidst Global Challenges

Right now, some people would say the world we live in is a dark, dark place. There is, of course, some truth to that. All around us, there are stories of conflict, of suffering, of endless global crises. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. There might be problems we cannot ever address because they need entire organizations and nations to solve, but even as ordinary humans we can do our fair share of alleviating the hardships of others.

One thing that has consistently helped us is the advent of technology. Again, some would say that our constant drive for innovations and scientific advancements are actually urging us to veer away from our humanity and from each other, but certain developments prove otherwise. Some argue that technology can even make us more human. And I agree, especially when it comes to social apps and how they have facilitated empathy between people. Despite the many problems that people around the world are facing, some glimmer of hope arises in social apps and how they bring people closer to each other and thus closer to solving their crises. Here are some ways that social apps nurture hope:

1. Speaking out and raising awareness

More and more, social apps are being used to promote awareness and share vital information. Some people are simply not as exposed to important issues, and they truly benefit from others who speak out in order to help them understand. For instance, a mother posted some facts plus her own take on depression on Facebook, an inspiring post that has gone viral and helped break stigmatizing opinions on the matter. Mental health is a serious problem because it is not yet as accepted by many people despite the scientific data, so it always helps to bring stuff like it to the limelight and get the conversation going. It is always so tear-jerking when you hear (or read?) someone speak so passionately about something so significant.

Since it spans networks and networks of people, social media could definitely be a good avenue to raise awareness. Ordinary individuals can participate in the global discussion, even if it means starting to inform and converse with the people who are closer to them.

2. Crowdfunding

One of my favorite online trends ever is GoFundMe. It helped a deaf boy provide hearing aids to fellow deaf children. It helped cops replace the stolen college tuition money of a deserving student. It helped students fund the surgery of their teacher’s wife.

Fundraising initiatives have probably been going around since time immemorial, but technology has certainly taken it to a whole new level. Crowdfunding is an interesting online trend because you are not only appealing to people you know inside your own community, you are inviting people from everywhere to share your cause. In doing so, you get to witness empathy on a global scale. It proves that we don’t have to be so similar, we can speak different languages and live in different countries, and still have the heart to help each other.

3. Doing little acts of kindness

Lastly, just because we can raise awareness virtually or donate money online, doesn’t mean help is limited nowadays to digital forms. Tweets, Facebook posts, and even blogs that talk about important issues are definitely a good way to participate in changing the world. Crowdsourcing is another surefire way to help people out and make an impact in their lives, even if they are far away. But again, help that comes from progressive technology doesn’t necessarily have to remain online or virtual.

The BeepBeep Nation app has a proposal to digitally facilitate connections but encourage face-to-face interactions between people who are willing to help each other out. By linking people who need help and people who can provide it, regardless of how seemingly simple and small the favor is, BeepBeep Nation inspires us to take a step forward and initiate a culture of helping amongst ourselves. It is also a true community app, as it seeks to build networks of peers among people who willingly share their kindness with one another.

It may not seem like a lot to give someone a ride home or a place to stay, or even offer your own recommendation to promote your favorite restaurant in the vicinity, but it’s a start. The world could be a dark place, but there are an infinite number of ways to share the light, if only little by little.

If you think there’s hope in social apps like I do, and want to share your own little spark, be sure to check out the BeepBeep Nation app. Soon to launch worldwide in selected cities, it is fuelled by the EMINENT (EMN) token, now available for sale. Get started now and participate in a world of technological progress, hope and kindness.

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AI Can Distinguish Abusive Language Online

So far, we’ve used artificial intelligence much to our advantage in whatever way possible. We’ve built devices as trivial as visual emotion masks, but overall, people feel mostly optimistic. But now that we know AI can serve purposes of various degrees of impact, developers from McGill University are developing an AI that can recognize hate speech on social media.

Instead of focusing on isolated words and phrases, they taught machine learning software to spot hate speech by learning how members of hateful communities speak… They focused on three groups who are often the target of abuse: African Americans, overweight people and women.

Previous softwares detecting abusive language have proven unsuccessful due to the misleading nature of online slang. That and the fact that machines aren’t well-versed in sarcasm. The system, however, was able to identify racist slurs and avoided false positives. And I believe this first step in compiling data about sites that condone and even encourage abusive language can lead to finding solutions in the future. Perhaps hopefully, not just online. After all, our material reality reflects our online visual reality, and vice versa.

“Comparing hateful and non-hateful communities to find the language that distinguishes them is a clever solution… [But] ultimately, hate speech is a subjective phenomenon that requires human judgment to identify,”

While it won’t eliminate every online bully, it’s a commendable attempt at making the Internet a safer environment.

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Stars Post Embarrassing Photos For Hurricane Relief

Stories of Houston bakers donating bread to hurricane victims and an air force couple postponing their wedding to rescue Floridians have undisputedly warmed our hearts. Among the wreckage, we appreciate the good news — and we’re glad it hasn’t stopped there. Hollywood stars are posting hilarious childhood snaps on social media in an effort to raise funds for Puerto Rico.

“I’m happy to announce that for every celebrity—and I get to determine who’s a celebrity—who posts their awkward teenage photos with the hashtags #PuberMe and #PuertoRicoRelief, the AmeriCone Dream Foundation will donate $1,000 to One America Appeal,” [Steven] Colbert announced [on his show].

Since the call-out, actors such as Reese Witherspoon, Steve Martin, and Kathy Griffin have publicly embarrassed themselves for the cause. These celebrities join Jennifer Lopez, who donated $1 million, and Beyonce, who is forwarding proceeds from her single to charities, in the fight to help Puerto Rico.

Trying times may call for desperate measures — but we sure do enjoy a laugh for charity. And if you aren’t of celebrity status, there are still a handful of ways to give back.

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Cyberbullying Is So Out Of Fashion

Here are a list of things that are no longer relevant today: the Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud; apple-bottom jeans and boots with the fur; the T-Mobile Sidekick; and privacy. Yes, privacy. If you haven’t noticed, “What you say can and will be used against you,” is no longer just a Miranda Right.

The 21st century has been a dangerous era for teenagers in particular. With a lack of privacy arrives the need to keep up appearances. Uploading a photo onto your Instagram account is never as simple as sharing a moment but sharing wealth and status. A critical tweet is not just about an opinion but being inarguably right. Networks comprise of the easily offended and those who are “just putting others in their place.” After all, next to Disneyland, social media is the happiest place on earth–for people who are winning at it.

As a person who is far from soft-spoken, my handles are laden with bare-faced selfies, erotic poetry, and new philosophies. I often receive a generous amount of likes and positive comments regarding my boldness and bravery, save for the occasional hater who thinks I am “too loud.” When sharks bite, do you bite back? A younger me would’ve certainly thought so. But if social media is a perpetual game of who can be meaner, who wins? Does it even really matter?

Believe it or not, not everyone is out to offend you. When someone has realized they have hurt you by means of understanding facial expressions and the tone of your voice, they will, more often than not, apologize. This doesn’t exist on FaceBook and Twitter, where movements are carefully calculated and empathy remains a thing of the past.

Cyber bullies, who are shielded by a trusty sheet of fiber optic glass, are plagued with mob mentality, as they are usually part of one. People thrive on validation, and those who join Internet mobs don’t always do so with bad intentions. After all, if the majority thinks it, it must be true. Sometimes, they are just ill-advised.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some truly nasty players out in the virtual field. Some studies claim that cyber bullying has exponentially more negative effects than face-to-face abuse–this is because people feel less obligation to help, especially when disparaging tweets are easily swept away by a sea of song lyrics, play-by-plays, and borderline-creepy statements about Harry Styles.

Instructing kids to stay off social media is no longer an effective method of protection. After all, having an iPhone is no longer an option but a necessity. So how do we avoid getting cyber bullied? The simple answer is we can’t. But it’s up to us to respond.

Bullies thrive on attention. Anger is the fuel to their vehicle. Kill them with kindness or leave them in the dust. Whatever the case, act dignified. Compassion is a bully’s very own Kryptonite.

Report them. Harassment is by no means free speech. Reach out. Hardly ever is there a case where you are the “only one.” Educate yourself and others. Draw the line somewhere. The mute button is just a click away. Attack no one, but defend yourself. Know that bullies are people too.

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