Commentary

Staying 'Afloat' In Sea Of Social Turbulence

Social media has many plusses, but it also creates a home for dangerous extremist views, where misinformation about the presidential election and COVID-19 thrive.

(Even Republicans who support Trump have been the targets of death threats. Their crime? They are state officials who certified the votes in Georgia.)

The latest right-wing fear-mongering social network, which includes QAnon supporters, anti-Semites, white supremacists, pandemic and deep-state conspiracy theorists, is Parler. And it counts Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), elected representatives who took an oath to uphold the Constitution, among its supporters. So are Fox’s Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, as well as Brad Parscale, who once crafted President Trump’s digital strategy.

Parler, like much of the blogsphere, unleashes the darker impulses of the id.

Which is why, in the face of such overt hatred and desire to obliterate the “better angels of our nature,” it is refreshing to welcome Afloat.

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The app Afloat, launched last week, is available in the App or Android store.

Founder Sarah-Allen Preston sees it as “lending a hand when you have the bandwidth to give,” she explained on “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” More to the point, Preston believes we are “wired to help each other.”

For her, Afloat is a digital way to achieve that goal.

The idea is for users to form groups — friends, families or colleagues — then list what they need. It could be a holiday gift for a teacher or a carpool ride. If someone can lend a hand, they do.

One such group supports in-patient families at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

The app’s ecommerce feature also allows local businesses to connect to customers or specific communities in more expansive ways.

All interactions are meant to underscore social service, finding ways to provide needed assistance — be it sharing advice or giving needed items.

Afloat, which spent most of this year in a beta test, partnered with Fueled, the company behind apps for Warby Parker, Wirecutter and RiteAid, to produce a user-friendly tool. 

Preston speaks from experience. When her youngest son was born needing heart surgery, she realized a connected social network was essential. It kept her from sinking, and she’s now committed to ensuring others stay afloat — hence the app’s name.

For more information: www.afloat.life, or on Instagram, @afloatlife

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