From our Q1 2018 Report

When something becomes “toxic,” it generally means a lot of infected, even poisonous, material has been dropped into it. Does your life today feel more toxic than it used to?

If so, you aren’t alone. Years ago people began noticing that watching news programs, filled with disaster and death, were adding to their depression and decreasing their quality of life. This spawned a movement toward positivity—not ignoring the bad news, but making sure it is at least balanced with a few good news stories.

Add in unregulated social media and an online life that often gets out of control, and we’re back in depression territory way too fast. What’s more, toxic online conversations are something few of us are equipped to address. We either begin to slowly opt out of checking in online, or we “defriend,” or we get immersed in an online battle that never ends well.

There may be some light at the end of this tunnel, though! Brands and services alike are beginning to step in and guide online conversation standards. Here are some examples:

Microsoft is one of the more notable companies to have taken direct aim at Internet trolls as it rolls out new rules for offensive language bans across multiple products and platforms.

• The ”Right to Disconnect” has become an interesting and helpful debate, as employees and their employers begin to work through how much attention should be paid to work after hours, particularly as people seek to balance their work-life obligations.

• Multiple groups, across both the USA and UK, are looking into how to create and develop AI without bias. Gender, ethnicity ,and socio-economic backgrounds are all part of the discussion and will undoubtedly impact how AI is developed.

• An alliance across multiple gaming companies and platforms, including Blizzard, Riot, and Twitch, have created a task force to build a better gaming community and combat toxic behavior in gaming.

We take it as a good sign that conversations are continuing around online civility, with the power of brands stepping in to add weight. It’s all part of the maturation process of the internet, but could, in fact, lead to a nicer digital tomorrow.

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