by: Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
Facebook is most commonly known as a social media platform. Among others like Instagram and Snapchat, it enables users to connect with others through text, photographs, and other related media. However, the company has recently curated a new podcast series entitled 3.5 Degrees: The Power of Connection.
The title of the podcast is a play on the Six Degrees of Separation Theory, which asserts that humans are within merely six steps of one another at any given moment. With the accessibility of technology available in the market today, making connections and communicating with others is now easier than ever before. The theory is now extending further, essentially prompting a shift from six degrees of separation to 3.5.
According to Facebook Business Manager, 3.5 Degrees “explores the benefits, opportunities, and challenges of this new proximity; bringing together unexpected pairings of business leaders, mavericks, and entrepreneurs who share surprising parallels in values, visions, experiences and ideas.”
David Fischer, vice president of business marketing & partnerships at Facebook, serves as the host of 3.5 Degrees, which aired its first official episode on October 8, 2018. Fischer takes the theory of 3.5 degrees even further, formulating a discussion on the impacts of social media and technology with businesses and entrepreneurs. Although many listeners would assume that Facebook intended to use this tool as a marketing instrument, the discourse from the first episode does not come off this way. Fischer starts by introducing the respective backgrounds of his guests and then concludes by inviting them in to speak together.
The first episode of the podcast features the creators of two entirely different companies—Two Blind Brothers and TOMS—that have the like-minded purpose of helping others in need. TOMS is widely known for its mission to donate a pair of shoes for every purchase made to impoverished individuals in countries all over the world. Likewise, Two Blind Brothers’ founders, Bryan and Bradford Manning, have created a brand of clothing that focuses on textural rather than visual appeal; a portion of their profits are directed towards causes that seek a cure for blindness.
Introducing this topic as the lead-in for the podcast therefore makes 3.5 Degrees different than one would expect. From a discussion on the impact of social media and interconnectivity, it is evident that the progression of technology has made communication easier. What appears to be different about this series is that Fischer simply alludes to these assumptions rather than basing the overall discussion on them.
During the episode, Fischer says, “their conversation comes at a time when many companies are wrestling with how to give back, how to build social value, and how to attract the next generation of consumers who want to support businesses with altruistic goals.” Corporate social responsibility is a pervasive topic in the business world today, as many consumers value businesses that are looking to do more than generate a profit and reap personal gains. With the omnipresent sense of connection that can be felt today, this topic is fitting for the podcast’s larger aim. It will be interesting to see which angle Fischer takes next in the coming episodes.