Dear World: Let's Focus on Being Positive

Frank Eliason Director of Global Social Media, Citibank

Posted on August 2nd 2012

Dear World: Let's Focus on Being Positive

Dear World,

We have been going through an amazing transformation of the past few years. I have had the privilege to watch revolutions happen before my eyes. I have become connected to people in the furthest reaches of the globe. I have had the opportunity to learn from, cry with, and rejoice with these new found friends. I feel lucky to be a part of this new found connection. Even with all this positive change I have been noticing a trend in social media where we seem to be growing more negative, and sometime downright vicious. I think it is time that we as a community work to change that! I know we can lead the way.

I can provide numerous examples of this negativity, butImage yesterday I came across one of the worst examples yet. Let me tell you about If you have kids like me, I am sure your heart will go out to this young girl Harper Gruzins. Harper is an aspiring singer who had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem before a Dallas/Los Angeles soccer match. It certainly did not go as well as she would have planned. Of course in this connected world the video was posted to youtube and has since gone viral. You can read more of the story here. The comments around the web are horrifying.  Here are a few examples of comments:

"More like Harpie Gruzins. I hope she dies."

"someone... PLEASE shoot that bitch.. all the people clapping need gun permits.."

I could list them on and on. This is an 11-year-old girl. How would you feel if this were your daughter or sister? When did it become socially acceptable to act this way? It is time to say enough is enough and we need to lead the way!

We have had a lot of hot topics via social media lately and in many of them I have seen similar reaction. Highly personal and no real room for dialogue. If we want social media to continue to thrive we have to create a much better experience. We have to open ourselves up for dialogue, and even when we disagree, respecting the other person. Many have viewed the web and social media in general, as a "snarky" place. We are better than that and I know with your help we can be.

I know there are many reasons for the negative manner we express ourselves. Sometimes social is less personal than we would like which makes it easy to attach. At the same time, in my view, we have seen similar trends outside social. Social is just highlighting this culture that has been building up. It has a lot to do with our current economic environment and sometimes others such as news publication, political figure or celebrities. In my opinion this has been building since the late 90's or early 2000's. In the past optimistic figures have been able to guide the change, but in a socially connected world, we now have that power to drive an optimistic future and we should seize it. I think the best days are ahead of us and by working together we can get the world there.

I would like to propose August 14, 6 months after Valentine's day, as #PositivelySocial day. Just one day where we strive to create positive dialogue and recognize positive contributors to our life. Of course my view is this is just a start. We really need to strive to encourage people to be more open to other views and discuss in an open, respectful manner. By taking this one day we can show the world how great social media can be and avoid some of the stereotypical aspects that have been happening. I wrote more about this over on my blog so please check out that post.

Since first writing about this the other day I have had numerous people express similar sentiment. In fact Scott Monty did an eloquent post on his blog yesterday based on his observation. Can you help create this positive discussion? I would love your help to spread the word.

With your help we will continue to change the world! We can do it for Harper or anyone else who has experienced the 'other' side of web 2.0.


Frank Eliason


Image: Positive thinking/Shutterstock


Frank Eliason

Director of Global Social Media, Citibank

Frank Eliason has been described as the “most famous customer service manager in the U.S., possibly the world.” By expanding the reach of customer service via social media, and taking the simple approach of asking "Can we help?” he repositioned the relationship between Comcast and its customers. At Citibank, Frank and his team are helping to change the way a global financial institution manages its relationships with a diverse community of consumer, small business and corporate customers—to serve and exceed their expectations and helping build a lifetime of trust between Citibank and its customers.

Frank Eliason is currently Director of Globalof Social Media at Citibank and author of @YourService published by Wiley. Frank became well known in social media for the Customer Service outreach function that his team at Comcast was involved with. This work has been recognized by many news organizations such as ABC News, New York Times, Business Week, among many others. Follow Frank on Twitter at @FrankEliason

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Ryan Zee
Posted on August 2nd 2012 at 11:21PM

The importance of remaining positive is especially topical given the Cathryn Sloane controversy:

Posted on August 3rd 2012 at 8:58AM


Thank you for the comment and that was one of the triggers, among many others, for this effort.  I wrote about that in my original post on my blog:

Thank you!

Clark Pearson
Posted on August 3rd 2012 at 2:00PM

You said it, Frank! I love the Internet and my role in it, but the torrent of negativity may ultimately push me away. Without a way to filter it out, I guess we need to fight it with positivity. 

Posted on August 3rd 2012 at 8:03PM

I think we can do it, even if it is sending a message to social websites regarding what is acceptable and what is not.  I think more can be done to fix this. We can all influence this improvement!


Cue Social Media
Posted on August 3rd 2012 at 2:12PM

I think this is a great idea. Have you thought about producing a graphic / image of some kind that those of us who support this idea can publish through our social networks? 

Posted on August 3rd 2012 at 8:02PM

That is a great idea.  It came about spur of the moment one day out of irritation so I did not fully plan that out but I would love people to help create ideas like this to help spread the word.  Thank you!

Posted on August 8th 2012 at 3:06PM

A great idea and so very much needed. It's possible to provide constructive critique and it's certainly much more effective without using poisonous language that’s ultimately divisive. It takes more work to build a bridge than to tear one down but the results are by far better.

Annerie Els
Posted on August 14th 2012 at 7:23AM

The motivation and concept behind #PositivelySocial should not be limited to a day, it should become an online philosophy and a viral one at that ~

Posted on March 1st 2013 at 10:43AM


This line struck me: "I know there are many reasons for the negative manner we express ourselves." I'm not sure what you mean (are you talking about emotional/psychological impulses?). And I'm not sure you're right.

I don't think there ARE any good reasons to express ourselves negatively (or to be more positive: We have every reason to express ourselves positively). It's certainly damaging to ourselves, emotionally, but it's never justifiable. We all deserve respect, And it's remarkably easy to give that respect to everyone in our lives. Bottom line: Be nice. Be respectful. It's what you would want, and everyone—including you—will feel better when you do it.