Being kinder online


Photo from Hello!

A new social media campaign, #HellotoKindness, hopes to encourage more positive, kinder experiences online.

Demi Guillory, Reporter

A new campaign to promote more positivity and kindness on social media was launched last month. On Jan. 28, Hello! magazine in the U.K. announced #HellotoKindness as a way to get social media users to participate in the movement. The campaign was created by Emily Nash, royal editor at Hello!, who was inspired to create the initiative after having her own — and witnessing others’ — negative experiences online.

In a video released to announce the campaign, Nash explained the reasoning behind her decision to take charge and initiate change.

“Social media can be a great place for us to connect with people and have conversations, but lately we’ve noticed it’s becoming increasingly hostile,” she said. Some of the abusive behavior Nash references is “racist, sexist, and sometimes [borders on] threatening territory,” she says. Her work covering the royal family has exposed her to behavior that has pitted two women — the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex — against each other in the wake of fans of one attacking the other for their beliefs and preferences.

“This isn’t what Hello! is about. This isn’t what social media should be about,” Nash said. She went on to urge worldwide followers to join the movement and take a stand because children should not grow up thinking this is “normal” behavior. Celebrities like former One Direction member Liam Payne  added their voices to the movement. “We should be promoting positivity, not hate. No matter who you are, no one should be receiving hate,” he tweeted to his 32.4 million followers.

The Diana Award is a charity inspired by the late Princess Diana that recognizes the achievements of young people changing the world. They have also voiced their support. #HellotoKindness T-shirts have been made for purchase, with proceeds going completely to the charity, which also runs the Anti-Bullying Pro.

Here at home, UNO students have witnessed just how toxic the behavior on social media can be, even when they aren’t directly involved. Jaide Schulz is one of them. She admits that while she hasn’t had any problems herself, she’s noticed “a lot of hateful behavior” online on all platforms she is active. “Scrolling through comments, they were all negative, and I think that exists because of the anonymity of being behind a screen,” Schulz said.

What people don’t realize, Schulz continued, is that “being hateful online doesn’t change the fact that words still hurt people.”

Social media users are encouraged to take a stand against what Nash calls “unacceptable” behavior by posting messages of support for the campaign. “Post it to your followers, tell them there’s no space for hate, on your feed or anyone else’s,” Nash said. She ended the video by reminding users to think before they post, “Is it helpful? Is it kind? Would you say it in real life?”

#HellotoKindness has only been launched for two weeks, but the support and attention the campaign is receiving is growing daily.