In an interesting social experiment, Jonathan Stark has showcased the more constructive aspects of social media – its ability to bring people together and create positive bonds throughout society.
Last week, Stark made his Starbucks card available for anyone to use. He encouraged Internet users to simply scan the barcode of his card with their iPhone at any shop to purchase coffee, pastries, or whatever their hearts desired, but as part of the deal he encouraged users to donate money to help refill the card.
Far from resulting in a tragedy of the commons, in which users recklessly abused the generosity of others, the card seemed to be a great success. Sadly, Starbucks has chosen to shut down the operation, but on the bright side according to Stark’s website the card has sparked numerous acts of random kindness.
“In the last 5 days or so, we’ve received hundreds of stories of people doing small things to brighten a stranger’s day: Paying for the next car at the drive through. Sharing a pick me up with someone who has had a rough time. Charging up a phone card and sharing it with strangers at the airport. The list goes on, and on, and on…”
Hopefully this social experiment will also encourage you to go out and do a nice thing for someone today.
Meanwhile for more evidence of the inherent kindness of others and their willingness to sacrifice for strangers, have a look at this article in Pluck about my experience on Obama campaign in New Mexico.