If you follow YouTube celebrities or watched the most recent season of The Amazing Race, you are probably familiar with Tyler Oakley. With millions of subscribers, Oakley has become an internet sensation and, as such, has some really valuable insight about the interactions he sees online and what we can do to make our virtual world a better place.
While speaking at VidCon 2016 in Anaheim, California last week, he explained: “You may think that when you tweet – I’m probably preaching to the choir, ya’ll are angels I’m sure – but when you tweet to somebody … like, okay, say you tweet to Demi Lovato, God Bless her, but you tweet something shady, she might see that – and like I just said, she’s a human… So it doesn’t matter if that person’s an A-list celebrity, a YouTuber, a politician … whatever they might be, words have power.”
His comments came just days after 23-year-old Lovato announced that she was returning to Instagram and Twitter after writing off both social media platforms just 24 hours earlier. Known for being very vocal, Lovato had recently butted heads with commenters. The singer promised to be “more honest than ever.”
This resonated with Oakley who said that he “used to not really care” but that he’s making a conscious effort to “be more positive” in his online presence. “I’ll bite my tongue, sometimes I forget,” said Oakley. “I try to put that [positive] energy out there. I think it’s easy to be shady. It’s cooler to be nice. You don’t have to be. That’s your own prerogative, but I’ll like you more if you’re nice.”
He’s got a point. Most of us have interacted with friends on Facebook, for example, and it’s so easy to give in to the negativity and, sadly, that can really affect relationships. Instead of just saying the first thing that comes to mind, take a moment to consider why you’re saying it. What are your motives and what do you hope to accomplish? Is your feedback constructive or is it fueled by jealousy, hurt feelings, or some other emotion? Even if it is constructive, consider sending your comments to your friend or family member in a private message instead of opening it up to a public discussion. You may be surprised by what’s truly driving your need for “honesty.”
Have you ever been hurt by social media comments? What happened? Did it change how you interact online?