SXSW Moments: Strive for Kindness
Did you miss something at SXSW 2019? Want to relive the magic? Look to this space over the coming weeks for links to video and audio replays of some of the most incredible experiences from this year’s event.
Internet scams are as old as the dial-up modem, but the powerful story in the New York Times last week detailing a new generation of social media “love scams” cuts to the heart of one of the most profound questions of the digital age — can technology help us become better and kinder people?
The War for Kindness: Building Empathy In a Fractured World
Empathy is in short supply. Alienation and tribalism are rampant. Research shows that people are less caring than we were just 10 years ago, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, and author of “The War for Kindness,” argues that our ability to care is not a fixed trait, but a skill we can grow through practice. Drawing on cutting-edge research, including experiments from his own lab, he demonstrates how empathy-building can overcome toxic cultural divisions. He shares stories of people — from cops to teachers to ex-neo Nazis — who are living these principles and fighting for kindness among the toughest of circumstances.
Becoming Limitless: How to Live your Best Life
What if success didn’t equal happiness? We spend our lives striving for success as defined by others, giving votes to those who shouldn’t even have voices. The failures become definitional, but even the successes still somehow feel hollow. When we don’t define success in our own terms, finding our purpose and carving our own path becomes impossible. Success is not just about money and power and access. It’s about calling, connection, contribution, and control. It’s about consonance, when the “what” we do matches the “who” we are, in pursuit of living a life of consequence. Check out insights from Laura Gassner Otting of Limitless Possibility.
Battle of the Extremes: An AI-Moderated Debate
This debate — moderated by an AI — explores how technology could help us steer clear of extremism, with the ultimate ambition of driving progress for divided society. Business journalist Sonoo Singh and Hannah Matthews of Karmarama debate “Data: the answer or end?” Their discussion, which centers on data protection, personalisation and ethics, was monitored by a bot developed by Karmarama. The bot brings to life the heat of the conversation, calls out extreme thinking and high emotions, identifies positivity vs negativity, and challenges speakers to find consensus.
A Call to Arms: Solving Loneliness Through Human Touch
Loneliness is increasing, as are its related negative health outcomes: Inflammation, high blood pressure, immunodeficiency, and cortisol, in addition to depression, anxiety, anger, and social isolation. Missing from the discussion is our lack of human touch. In the era of #metoo, we have made human touch suspect and off limits. What don’t we understand about human touch? Do we know how to access it? How can we have both individual boundaries and a touch-rich environment? Speakers Epiphany Jordan, author of “Somebody Hold Me: The Single Person’s Guide to Nurturing Human Touch,” and Janet Trevino, Platonic Touch & Rehabilitative Touch Specialist, explore the historical and current cultural context for our lack of touch, and look at some possible solutions.
Generation Lonely: 10,000 Followers and No Friends
We can connect and communicate more quickly than ever, but, as a society, we’re lonelier and more disconnected. This panel discusses what’s behind the increasing feelings of social isolation and loneliness (two different things) and the medical and mental ramifications of being lonely — for example, some doctors think it’s connected to the huge increase in inflammatory diseases. Speakers Dawn Fallik, award-winning medical reporter specializing in database analysis and an associate professor at the University of Delaware, and Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and the Director of the Social Neuroscience lab at Brigham Young University, also talk about the stigma of loneliness, why that makes it so hard to create programs and offer help, and what can be done to change it.
More Memories from SXSW 2019
Gender, Tech and $$
Is it Real – or Fake?
The Future of Food
AI, With Feeling
Future of AI
Why News Matters
AI for Business
Public Interest AI
Change is Coming
It’s Time for Sports!
Saving the Ocean
Social Media Power
Telling New Media Stories
May the Fourth
Women in Tech
Thriving at Work
Making a Difference
Fighting Fake News
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.