Prince Harry has been making headlines for his engagement to Meghan Markle, but the British Royal has more going on in life than upcoming nuptials (though, to be clear, we cannot wait for them to take place). The 33-year-old sat down with Barack Obama in Toronto to chat about the potential harm of social media and its impact on society as we know it.
In the interview for BBC Radio 4, which was recorded back in September when the pair were on Canadian soil for the Invictus Games, the former President of the United States, with his eloquent speech and down-to-earth demeanor, warned that people in powerful positions should avoid social media platforms.
“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” Obama told Prince Harry. “One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”
Obama didn’t specifically mention Donald Trump, but it’s hard not to keep the mind from wandering to the current Twitter-loving POTUS and his daily digital spewings.
And it’s not just influential faces like world leaders that Obama is urging to rethink heavy social media use. The father of two also spoke about the importance of everyday people stepping away from the internet and getting out into their physical communities to interact with one another.
“The truth is that on the internet everything is simplified, and when you meet people face to face it turns out they are complicated,” Obama said. “One of the things we want to do, I think, is as we’re working with young people to build up platforms for social change, make sure that they don’t think that just sending out a hashtag in and of itself is bringing about change. It can be a powerful way to raise awareness, but then you have to get on the ground and actually do something.”
So while throwing a hashtag onto the end of your latest passionate Twitter plea will elevate whatever cause you’re supporting, the real work requires you to get off your butt, away from the screen and into the real world.
Prince Harry also asked Obama what has changed now that he’s no longer president, and he had a very calculated, very Obama response: “The things that are important to me haven’t changed, I still care about about making the United States and the world a place where kids get an education, where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage, that we are conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place like we did.”
This sit-down is powerful and charming for so many reasons, but most of all, it just makes us miss Obama more than ever. Please come back, Obama!