How to Change the World

To what extent can each person actually shape the world for the better?

June 11, 2024

Introduction

Every moment of our lives is influenced by a web of interactions and decisions made by individuals, organizations, and governments across the globe.

Our ability to have an individual impact may seem limited, but in reality, our actions can have a profound impact on shaping the future.

Every minute of every day, you are making a decision about the actions you want to take. Each of these actions have some influence on the world around you.

Now consider that there are about 8 billion people in the exact same position.

Each person’s choices and actions create a network of interconnected probabilities, forming a global tapestry of possibilities.

That begs the question…

To what extent can each person actually shape the world for the better?


Let’s start here.

Every minute, you’re making a choice about what action to take.

It could be as simple as deciding to get off the couch.

That comes out to 1,440 choices per day.

Yet, that pales in comparison to the 11.5 trillion choices that are made globally…

Talk about an overwhelming number.

It’s no wonder that we evolved muscle memory to reduce the cognitive load of making the decision to do the actions we need to do on a regular basis (e.g., eating).

For starters, let’s assume that 50% of your actions don’t affect anyone but yourself (e.g., brushing your teeth). That leaves 720 “influential” decisions every day.

Our interactions with other people generally follow a power-law distribution. This means that we have a few close connections and many more distant connections.

For today, we’ll assume that each person can only realistically maintain 150 meaningful relationships. This number (actually 148) was initially proposed by anthropologist Robin Dunbar in the 1990s. Although there has been significant debate around the exact number, the premise holds.

Combining these numbers (720 and 148), and using a simple power law formula, we can estimate that we interact with our “favorite” person 32 times per day. This feels realistic, especially if you are in a committed relationship.

Humans naturally form networks of interactions.

For example, if you interact 32 times per day with your significant other, that means they interact 32 times per day with you as well. They also interact with people other than you, meaning that you have 2nd order connections to those people.

In fact, you may have first-order connections if you share a friend group or have children together.

This creates networks that look like this.

The implication of this social network is that it’s relatively easy to create change within your “cluster” of individuals, and harder to bridge the gap between groups.

Think about when the latest TikTok trend went viral. Your friend group may have participated, but it was probably harder to get your parents — who you have connections too, but are in a different network than you — to join in.

This is all well and good, and hopefully interesting. But above analysis doesn’t consider digital forms of influence, which are more prevalent in the modern age.


There are 2 primary ways you can influence people digitally:

1. Social Media

Hopefully the ability to influence vast amounts of people on social media is self- explanatory.

Just for context, some of the top celebrities — like Kim K — make $1M+ for a single post…because every time she posts, it has the potential to influence 360M people.

By definition, however, we can’t all have a massive social media influence.

Certainly, we encourage you to use your social platform to create meaningful change aligned with your personal values. However the likelihood of becoming a mega-influencer is relatively small.

2. Personal Finances

On the other hand, personal finances are accessible to everyone.

There has been a lot of buzz about sustainable and ethical investing and sustainable investing…but the reality is that most of us (myself included) spend WAY more money than we save every year.

In a country with rising inflation and out of control housing prices, unfortunately there’s it’s not much of an option.

Luckily, the surprising truth is that the money you spend has a larger impact than where you invest. In fact, the decisions you make that affect the most people are your purchasing decisions.

For example, when you spend $100 at Amazon, that money is distributed across 1.5M employees (not to mention the suppliers involved in producing and delivering the product).

While that amounts to less than .01 cents per person, the breadth of your influence is far greater than you may realize.

Every time you choose to support a company, whether it’s by buying their products or investing in their stocks, you are indirectly endorsing their practices

Of course, making a “decision” every single time you need to buy something is a pain in the a** and not realistic.

We evolved “muscle memory” in order to reduce cognitive load.

In theory, our financial systems would help us use that muscle memory to create positive change, both socially & environmentally.

After all, money is a tool for change — whether that’s for yourself, your family, your community, or our planet.


From The Founder

Thanks for reading!

As co-founder of Karma Wallet, I want to be able to speak directly with our community – that’s you!

Through this writing, I’ll be touching on topics like social impact, the power of community, and the role of personal finance in changing the world.

I can’t wait to hear what you think 😊

Sincerely,

Kedar Karkare, PhD

Co-Founder @ Karma Wallet | Co-Owner @ DoneGood