How Richard Branson and Snoop Dogg Use Social Media Vs. Social Unrest
Last month, I spent a week on Necker Island, where Richard Branson and a bunch of entrepreneurs were discussing how we could help address political upheavals, intolerance, violence, social inequality, and other issues.
It’s almost like we’re in a war right now. Nations are split in half. On one side you have citizens who want to see social equality and inclusion for all, and on the other half you see intolerance and racism stemming from fear and frustration.
This trend where half the population of countries like the United States and United Kingdom are voting for intolerance and social inequality is spreading and becoming dangerous. When we arrived on Necker Island before the U.K. vote on June 23, everybody thought the U.K. would vote to stay in the European Union because logically it made the most sense.
But logic doesn’t always win in a democracy; sometimes fear and misinformation can win if enough of the population is consumed by it. That, unfortunately, is exactly what is happening in countries like America and Great Britain. After the vote, we were both stunned and saddened. The very next morning, Branson flew back to England to speak out against Brexit, and to work on ways to possibly reverse it.
Responding to this kind of upheaval requires leadership and education. College is great for certain types of education, but we need to educate people about tolerance, on how working together is how we thrive as a human race, and on how intolerance leads to horrible things such as war and even genocide. Most of us typically learn about tolerance, good or bad, from our environment, including our family, friends, religious groups, and other communities.
Lacking this education seems to be the most-significant common element that divides us into tolerant and intolerant. Donald Trump has emerged as a major political leader by tapping into the fear and bitter unrest that often comes with intolerance. He’s giving them a scapegoat—“it’s their fault”—and he’s tapping into nostalgia with such slogans as “Make America Great Again.” These are smart, but dangerous and unethical tactics, which could lead to serious issues for America if we abandon the very fabric of tolerance we were founded on.
It’s not just happening in America. The Brexit really was an eye-opener for me. For whatever reason, these things tend to happen around the world at the same time, like a global consciousness.
On Necker Island, I was talking with Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke, and he was describing how the same type of social unrest and divisiveness led up to World War II. He said it was as if many countries around the world turned Fascist within months of each other. Today with the Internet, things like that happen even faster.
It’s difficult to influence this type of engrained negative education, but not impossible. Intolerant views are abundant on the Internet and are in the news nonstop from political leaders like Trump.
So what can we do as entrepreneurs and innovators to separate the wheat from the chaff? What can we do to counter the bad education?
Branson offered a great example of how you can effect change by using social media and YouTube to spread his message on the benefits of being part of the European Union. He told us his pre-election video against the Brexit got 6 million views. Online video is an excellent way to show this kind of leadership.
Earlier this month in Los Angeles, the rappers Snoop Dogg and the Game led a march on LAPD headquarters the day after a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas. Snoop Dogg said the idea behind the demonstration was “not to bash the police, but to come up here and get some dialog and some communication.”
They held a news conference with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck. Snoop Dogg said you can’t respond to hate with more hate, you must fight hate with love. The Game (whose real name is Jayceon Taylor) said: “If you are a human being and you have ears and eyes to see, this is a day of change. I think that we need to take responsibility as a human race and accept the role as peace-givers and people that distribute love and change throughout this city.”
We need more leadership like that.
It just needs to be better organized. We have charities that fight cancer. Why can’t we create an organization that has prominent, influential people—leaders—to educate the masses on how to think about this current situation, the economic ramifications of intolerance, and the benefits of ethnic diversity? We need unification of the world’s most-influential leaders on a global scale. We need the good men and women who have millions of followers to stand together as one voice. To make that voice so loud that it can’t be ignored, so loud that it can overcome fear, ignorance, hate, and intolerance. The stakes are high and the time is now.