Remembrance in a digital world — Moving beyond physical cash and coins
This past Remembrance Day weekend, as we marked the 101st anniversary of the end of World War I, many in Canada observed a drop in the number of people wearing commemorative poppies. While hockey commentator Don Cherry blamed immigrants for the drop in poppy displays, I believe this change is rooted in our declining use of cash, coins, and physical retailing.
We no longer carry around physical cash and coins in our pockets like we used to, but the distribution model for poppies hasn’t evolved with our changing behaviors. As we spend an increased share of our lives online, there’s an opportunity for social media platforms to be involved in remembrance by going beyond hashtags and status updates.
I believe social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat should explore allowing users to buy poppy profile icons, similar to how they have verified profile icons. So much of social network activity is based on social signaling. For a small fee, it would be interesting to be able to own a premium icon that shows your support for a good cause, along with financial fundraising for social good (e.g. veterans benefits).
Social media platforms need to rethink whether they want to be outlets of outrage, or outlets of community support.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey often speaks about the health of conversations in digital public arenas. The current state of social media is a trending list of divisive issues and unstopping controversies. These companies have invested in bot detection and abuse prevention capabilities, but their leaders need to tackle a deeper truth that their current structures exacerbate our biases, and encourage a culture of adversarial comebacks for clicks.
The age of hyper personalized ad targeting will be threatened by a global rise in privacy concerns and regulatory controls. Social media companies will need new revenue generation tools beyond selling user data. Selling premium goodwill indicators is an opportunity to expand the current social media business model, and may even provide a wedge entry into payments and transactional activities. Once you’ve integrated money movement into these platforms, they can graduate from social connectivity to economic connectivity.
The history of humans shows we’ve always adorned ourselves with physical badges of honour. Our digital profiles should be able to do the same.