Though Starbucks may be known to most Americans for its lattes and friendly staff, one thing that the international coffee giant tends to have trouble with is conservative outreach. As a matter of fact, in the past Starbucks has done things that have really gotten under the skin of those on the right, from their support for gender-neutral bathrooms to the hiring of 10,000 refugees. But after all of the outrage and tension Starbucks has stirred up between themselves and right-leaning Americans, the coffee chain now appears to be taking a more, shall we say, “civil and tolerant” approach to business.
Last week, Starbucks launched a new initiative aimed at bringing conservatives and liberals closer together. The app, created with the help of the Harvard Business School start-up Hi From The Other Side, encourages people from both sides of the political spectrum to engage in rational, civil discussions without any of the name calling or bitterness that is commonly heard in mainstream politics.
The app allows users to connect via the Internet to others nearby who hold political views that differ from their own. In other words, a conservative would be automatically connected with someone who is more liberal in his or her beliefs, and a liberal would be connected with someone who is more conservative. Once the two users are connected, each of them receives “half” of the information, although as of right now it unclear what that means.
The only way both of the users will be able to obtain all of the information is if they meet up and talk to each other one on one. Once they solve this puzzle together, they will each be able to get a free cup of coffee.
Of course, while the intentions of this app are good, the reality of having two people of differing political ideologies sit down and talk could go either way. Either the program will work as intended and Republicans and Democrats will learn how to speak to each other with civility, or tension between the two users could build up to the point where the conversation turns into a screaming match.
Regardless of the potential consequences, you have to give Starbucks credit for trying to accomplish the impossible. Rational and civil debate is simply not something that people seem to be capable of engaging in today, and any individual or company that tries to change that is deserving of some praise and respect.