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That’s a Wrap on Empathy Week!

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“When you give teens a chance to share their voices and you listen (really listen) to what they’re saying, you learn a lot about what we can do to support them and help them thrive.”

We are excited to announce the first round of leaders who will bring our 2020 theme HUMAN.X to life at the Broad stage this June (17-18).


“When you give teens a chance to share their voices and you listen (really listen) to what they’re saying, you learn a lot about what we can do to support them and help them thrive.”

This quote from Katie Hurley, leading expert on empathy and adolescent psychotherapist, summarizes the mission that drove the first-ever Empathy Week hosted by The 404, Social Media Week, Facebook, and a coalition of over 40 industry partners.

Bringing together students, influencers and industry leaders

From December 2-6, we brought together more than 100 high-school students, hundreds of industry leaders, influencers and brands, including P&G, GSK, GE and Samsung to brainstorm ideas for how we can address the fact that empathy is in decline among young people using technology.

Check out our video recap from Empathy Week:

Video by Kindred Minds Productions

Events were hosted at Edelman, Adobe, Grey Group, and Code and Theory’s offices. Dan Gardner, Code and Theory’s CEO said, “We decided to participate in Empathy Week because we feel that as the digital and social media landscape matures so quickly, there’s a growing gap in understanding both the effects it has on a younger generation, as well as the advancements in digital tools and human approaches to mental health. Quite simply, we want people to care about their words and choices online, and understand how they can affect other people. Imagine how different the world would be if everyone who used social media cared about other people’s feelings?”

The week culminated at Facebook’s Partner Center where The 404 hosted a discussion on the role that the marketing industry can play in scaling the program that included leaders from Adobe, Code and Theory, Acoustic, and Holler.

Led by Katie, students explored the different types of empathy and how they differ from sympathy, examples of empathetic behavior online, and ways they can manage their inner judge to become better listeners and communicate understanding.

Scaling the impact of empathy

As part of the workshop, students were also asked to complete a self-assessment quiz, before and after participating, to determine to extent of their understanding of empathy. The results showed that through a ninety-minute program, we increased students levels of empathy as a foundational skill by more than 10 percent.

“Imagine the impact we could make in addressing this issue with more time and more resources at our disposal? The appetite to learn and engage on this topic was voracious, both among students and teachers. This is our biggest opportunity to influence the next generation of Internet users,” said SMW Founder and Executive Directory, Toby Daniels reflecting on the week.

Here is what one of our industry leaders and a participating teacher from one of the schools, Khalil Gibran, had to share:

“Thank you so much for providing this workshop to our students. The workshop topic of empathy is an important topic that needs to be bridged and taught to everyone across the United States to ensure that our country moves in a more positive direction. My students really enjoyed being able to address the issue of lack of empathy by discussing issues faced in school and generating ideas on how to use empathy as a tool for change,” said Carrie Lynch, a high school teacher at Khalil Gibran.

#ActsofEmpathy Campaign

In conjunction with Empathy Week, The 404 also launched the #ActsOfEmpathy campaign with support from Instagram influencers Arielle Calderon (@ariellesays), KhrystyAna K. (@Khrystyana), Cameron Rogers (@freckledfoodie) and Katie Duke (@thekatieduke). #actsofempathy encourages them and the larger community to share their stories of empathy on Instagram and other social media sites and then tag friends who have stood by them during a difficult time or has elevated them in other ways.

What’s Next?

The 404, with over 40 active members, including Salesforce, Microsoft, Attention Capital, Refinery29, GroupM, TBWA, Droga5, and Accenture will convene at Facebook’s Partner Center in early January to explore ways to scale the program and its impact in 2020. Coming off the success of the first Empathy Week, The Department of Education has expressed interest in making the program available to hundreds of their New York City-based high schools.

About the 404

Lead by SMW, we are a community of multi-disciplined, digital thought-leaders brought together to take necessary steps toward solving problems and capitalizing on opportunities that exist as a product of how we use social media. 404 members include leaders from Facebook, Grey Group, Adobe, Code and Theory, Edelman, Whalar, IBM Watson, Salesforce, Microsoft, Attention Capital, Refinery29, GroupM, TBWA, Droga5, and Accenture.

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