Are we collaborative or destructive?

Abhinav Jain
3 min readMar 19, 2023

A colleague recently narrated a story about how his brand-new car was intentionally scratched by a man walking down the road. Quite a vengeful thing to do to an absolute stranger. However, evolution would indicate that we are collaborative in nature at least within our tribe. And with Social media there is a rise of micro tribes, we can now don many new identities. We have sports fans, the fans of actors, brands, the city, the locality, and so many tribes that we belong to. Some we may not even honestly believe in, but the tides of public sentiment demand that we showcase our belonging, lest we be left behind online.

Many social media apps like Facebook, and Instagram thrive on antagonist content, the more it raises the hackles the better the engagement. But Reddit, Quora, and Wikipedia tend to bring out our better natures. Being helpful is what is rewarded. With the addition of downvotes, Reddit allows the participants to moderate the conversation. So hecklers and trolls get downvoted while genuinely helpful people get upvotes.

In a true showcase of the power of its community, Reddit launched r/place, a collaborative art project in 2022. Members could add a colored pixel to a white canvas. Over time the project had flags of various countries, and many threads were formed where people negotiated with each other to hold their space.

Art was made, it was replaced, and then there was the void. A group trying to destroy what was being created. Members of the void collaborated to create black blotches to cover up the art. This project was a true showcase of how we can work with strangers when we have a shared identity, which can be the same country or fans of the same thing. It also showcased our need to destroy, a need to purge, to restart. But even this group shared an identity.

We know how to collaborate, but collaboration requires the fertile ground of shared identity. This shared identity is what builds community, something that a few brands have tried to do. For example, BlissClub has tried to build a community of women who like to exercise or as they say “move”. The idea is to create a space, which embodies the proposition of the brand. This would require events and engagements to build on this shared identity and keep the group together. Not an easy task, in a world of multiple commitments where we struggle to even hold on to the friends we have. But the benefit is that members provide much-needed word of mouth as well as early feedback on new launches.

Shared identities can form without the intervention of the brand or personality as well, for example, there are the sheeple and the bey hive. Brands can leverage the same to build a community around them.

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