IN TODAY’S technological age, advancements have removed a lot of the human element in interactions, making them less personal and creating a sense of detachment.
With that in mind, former Wallaby flyer Clyde Rathbone and his brother Dayne created Karma in the hopes of using a social media platform to counteract this and return some of the humanity to technology.
“Dayne is a computer scientist and in late 2014 we started discussing how we could create a social media platform that could help people have meaningful human connections,” Clyde said.
“It didn’t take us long to realise that an online space designed to improve human relationships had enormous potential, so we dived in and set-up a company.
“I’ve got tremendous respect for the impact that technology has had on our lives and I believe that the internet is an astonishingly powerful resource.
“With that said, it is clear to me that social media technology is still very immature and that for the first time we are forced to grapple with it’s increasing intrusion in our lives.
“Traditional social media often provides us with the illusion of connection while rarely providing us with the real thing.
“Karma is born from the desire to create social media technology that improves our lives and the lives of others,” he said.
While most people would agree that the idea of Karma is a noble one, it has not been plain sailing for the Rathbones as they attempted to compete in a very crowded marketplace.
As well as the typical start-up obstacles of chasing funding, learning to manage ever increasing work loads, and recruiting quality team members, Karma had to compete with already established social media platforms like facebook, instagram and twitter.
“It’s said that beginning a startup is a bit like jumping off a cliff and building an aeroplane on the way down,” Clyde said.
“While this is a useful analogy, Karma has also been a deeply considered process.
“We’ve spent a lot of time learning what underpins healthy relationships and online behaviour.
“We have systematically integrated features into Karma that optimise for the kind of experience we all value.
“This involved a huge amount of time speaking to our community of users and consulting with industry experts.
“People, especially the younger generation, are on all kinds of social platforms - most of which are short form communication.
“Karma is about long form meaningful content, so it’s a challenge to persuade people that it’s worth the effort to write longer form content.
“Ultimately what drives Karma are the profound experiences it helps create - and that’s down to the people who have embraced the platform and what it stands for,” he said.
Traditional social media platforms can sometimes be used in a negative and detrimental way.
Karma is the complete opposite.
“Karma is a place to recognise the positive impact other people have had on our lives by writing public letters,” Clyde said.
“Karma is a practice of gratitude, of mindfulness and of writing. It’s a unique way to give a meaningful gift and to preserve stories and memories.
“It is very easy for people to develop a negative self perception.
“Karma helps letter recipients appreciate that they are valued and have made an important difference to others.
“Knowing that we matter to others is the foundation upon which healthy psychology is built. For letter writers, Karma is a valuable exercise in gratitude.
“Taking the time to reflect on the people and relationships we are most grateful for can be an incredibly uplifting experience,” he said.
A veteran of nearly 30 Tests for the Wallabies, Clyde went through some very tough times, including battling with depression for many years as a player and after injury forced him to retire from international rugby.
He has come through the other side in a very positive manner.
“I coped with the tough times by connecting with what really matters in life,” Clyde said.
“It’s easy to become distracted by modern life and the stress it induces. I make it a habit to practise gratitude.
“This shift in attention seems to give me a healthy perspective about hardship - that on some level even hard times can be appreciated for the lessons they convey and the growth required to overcome them.”
“I stay mentally healthy by having positive social experiences, spending time in nature, exercising, eating healthily, getting quality sleep and doing work that aligns with my values.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with people I love in a company that represents something bigger than any one of us.
“I think finding work that is deeply meaningful has made all the difference to my transition out of sport.
“I would advise everyone to think about their health holistically.
“Remember that our health is always in flux and that it’s worth the effort to find lifestyle practises that work for you.
“I’m passionate about living a great life and helping other people to do the same.
“As a result, I often accept speaking requests that allow me to tell my story and start conversations that matter.”
The initial slog of getting Karma up and running has been completed, but according to Clyde, there is still much to do.
“There are now three- billion users of social media,” he said.
“All of them value genuine human connections and meaningful online experiences, but few of them are able to have this need met on traditional platforms.
“Our mission is to help these people use social media in healthier and more thoughtful ways.”
- To join Karma, go to https:// karma.wiki/ and sign up using your Facebook, Google or LinkedIn account.
Benefits of acts of kindness
DOING something nice for someone else can benefit not only their mental wellbeing, but yours too! Think about something you could do today, to make someone else’s life a little brighter.
- Write an open letter on Karma.wiki, for someone who has had a positive influence on your life
- Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the café
- Help to carry someone’s groceries to their car at the supermarket
- Make a friend their favourite dinner so they don’t have to cook
- Compliment the next person you speak with.