5 Ways to Make a Difference Online
Want to make a difference in the world, find a sense of purpose, or give back? Use these easy, simple, fun tips for making a difference using the Internet.
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I sometimes write about how to Outsmart Your Smartphone. Sometimes I write about problems with technology. Sometimes I write about how we can interact with technology more effectively. But today I want to share with you five ways you can use technology to make a positive difference in the world:
1. Join a mission-oriented online group.
There are now tons of online groups. Many of these groups focus on common interests—for example, cats, cooking, or sports. But other groups focus on common goals—for example, electing a particular political candidate, addressing an important social problem, or raising money for an important cause. Joining one of these mission-oriented groups can be a great way get started making a difference with very little time investment or risk. You can even try out a few groups to see which ones fit you best and boost your happiness the most.
1. Separate what’s realistic from what’s unrealistic
First, make a long list of all your expectations for relationships — seriously, everything you can think of. Next, take a red pen to all the ones that are unrealistic. How do you know which ones those are? Well, one way is to try to imagine doing or being everything on your list. Is it possible? For example, can you always tell what other people want? Do you always say the perfect thing? Do you never make mistakes? Having high expectations is fine — but having impossible expectations is problematic. See if you can find where the line is.
Increasingly, social media can be used to raise money for good causes. My friend Kyra sold T-shirts on Facebook to raise money for an organization she wanted to support. And Patrick asked friends to donate to a charity for his birthday present. You can do things like this too. By making your online interactions less about yourself and more about making a positive difference for others, you'll likely feel better about yourself and boost your happiness.
3. Leave kind words for others who contribute something positive.
Instead of just clicking away after enjoying a video, picture, or article, take a moment to leave a kind note for the person who created it or shared it. Devote a bit more time than it would take to simply click a like button, and instead say something genuine and from your heart. Believe me, the other person will really appreciate it and you'll leave feeling more satisfied that you would have had you skipped leaving a kind comment.
4. Start your own website.
Got some skills or knowledge that could benefit others? Consider starting you own website. It can take a long time to build up a website, but people will appreciate it if you offer them something of value. My website on how to build happiness in the digital age, for example, has taken years to build up to just a hundred or so pages. But more and more people stop by all the time, happy to have a helpful quiz and free happiness report.
What might you share with the world? Your knowledge, art, ideas, or something else? It's really easy now with free website builders like Weebly or Wordpress.
5. Volunteer remotely.
Another way you can make a difference online is by offering to volunteer for a non-profit organization. Often times there are tasks that can be done virtually and remotely. As a volunteer, you'll have less responsibility but still have an opportunity to make a real impact on the social problem of your choice.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.