Seeing through other’s eyes: Social media and compassion

There’s no doubt social media makes the world smaller – friends and family across the country and around the globe are only a click away.

There’s also no doubt that as frontrunners like twitter and facebook monetize their business plans, social media will prove to be a goldmine for those left standing.

What is often overlooked in the rush for friends, influence or money, is the ability of social media to generate compassion.

The Global Lives Project above, organized by volunteers, does something simple. It allows us to see our world through other’s eyes. It captures the diversity of different people’s lives and shares it among people that would probably never meet.

Social media, and in particular twitter with its follower strategy and facebook with its fan pages, allows us to achieve the same result. Strangers are readily accessible, and with the premium placed on dialogue, users can easily gain a deeper understanding of lives different to their own.

Social media has an important role to play in melting the barriers that breed ignorance, intolerance and aggression. When we understand another’s life, we are able to see ourselves in them and suddenly there is the possibility of change.

To witness this dynamic in action, here’s the Retweet Revolution, a dramatic visualization of how twitter served as an engine of compassion during the Iran election.

As social media grows and gains in importance, my hope is that it won’t always take a crisis for us to draw each other nearer.

Here’s another great example of generating compassion through shared experience with an appropriate message.