What is social credit, and what is it really good for?

Social credit is an economic theory with the goal of standardizing citizens’ social behavior based off of moral actions. In short: Do good things and get rewarded. Do bad things, get punished. China is taking the lead in incorporating this theory into practice.

In an HBO documentary titled, “China’s ‘Social Credit System’ Has Caused More Than Social Shaming,” they capture a day in the life of Chinese people and the effects social credit is having on the population. One aspect to making this theory a reality was a job that entailed observing citizens and documenting good and bad deeds. This documentation is sent to someone who enters the data and rates the deeds accordingly.  Citizens are given 1,000 points. Good deeds raise this score, bad deeds lower this score.

On the flip side, HBO shared the story of John, who co-signed a loan for a friend. He paid his share, the friend did not. John’s score lowered below 1,000 points. He was unable to buy things such as plane or train tickets. He donated money, blood, and time to raise his score. He was interviewed saying, “Only through this system can we discipline those who can’t discipline themselves.”

His statement was really impactful for me. In general, we have become a global society where the number of those who cannot discipline themselves is growing. If left unresolved, more bad will come than good. So is government stepping in and rating our social interactions, the answer?

For China, I believe it is because they have a very high honor system. I have honor, my family is honored, and on the flipside, shame comes when honor is not given. The Chinese value honor and hard work. While in John’s situation he was guilty by association, he was very motivated to fix his score and bring honor back to his name.

In America, I do not believe this will work. We pride ourselves in being a melting pot, and the result of this is that as a nation we have drifted apart in common values and morals. While we have fought very hard for freedom of speech and being independent, having a social system in place that rates a person on what another person deems as good or bad will only cause more problems than good.

Let’s talk mental health. In America, we already see a peer-led social credit system being enforced in the quest for social media fame. How many likes can I get? How many shares, reposts, or shoutouts can I get? If I obtain them, my self-esteem is raised, if the opposite happens, well… things can quickly self-destruct for the social starlight.

While the average person is not banking in on their social media status, many are, and because of this economic transaction, many social media personalities are saying and doing things they would not normally do in the name of sponsorship.

It’s a slippery slope down the social credit hole. But it’s one that you do not have to be blind to – educate yourself. Talk to others – those you agree with and those you do not. Peacefully engage in meaningful conversation – not to yell or change minds, but to exchange thoughts and interact socially.

We are social creatures. In the age of technology it is easy to forget that we thrive on relationship. Do not destroy the connection because you see a screen instead of a face, or because you might earn extra points (or lose them). Engage in a community because you acknowledge it is what is good for you.

Only you can be in charge of you and the community you live in. Make it a positive one, full of hope and opportunity. Be the change you are looking for and the rest of the world will follow.

From Grace, Truth, and Love I write…

The stones they are turning are troubling.

Noticing global standardization of morals

Is digging up our roots.

Highs and lows bring us back to the day,

That we hit rock bottom.

Losing our way, will help find the right one.

Troubling still is looking through the wreckage,

Going back to where it all began

We find our way. We find our path.

We all see things differently,

But the truth is,

It is in our roots where we find unity.

Hell is daunting, but not a much as the unknown.

Finding a place of love

Is the choice to find the door

That leads to wonderland.

Which leads me to wonder,

if we all thought, before we talked

The future would be

Full of grace, truth, and love.

think before you speak jen rainey quote
What is social credit and what is it good for?
About the communicator
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Jennifer is a wife, mom, educator, writer, dancer, and house plant enthusiast. Her life mission is to work smart to make people smarter.