News of Caroline Flack's untimely death has shocked me to the core. We shared mutual friends in the business and, like you, I knew her face well from TV. She has been portrayed as the bubbly party girl who loved hard and 'lit up a room', but behind that smile, there was a deep sadness which, by all accounts, was compounded by living a life in the spotlight and all the attention – wanted and unwanted – that comes with it.
Whereas famous personalities were once able to leave the TV studio, the nightclub, or wherever they had been, to go home and switch off the attention they might get, it's not so easy these days. Social media is a brilliant way to connect people and create communities, but it also has a dark side. It can be an addictive, relentlessly negative environment, and one that feeds off abusive comments. People seem to feel it's okay to post bullying, vitriolic, racist, sexist, hateful things to people they don't know, and they certainly wouldn't dare say to that person's face if they met them in the street. Well it's not okay; it's got to stop.
VIDEO: In a conversation with Gaby Roslin about #HelloToKindness
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At HELLO!, we launched our Hello to Kindness campaign last year, in response to witnessing a shocking growth in negative and abusive comments on our own social platforms - particularly Twitter and Instagram - aimed at the Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex in particular. Members of our team were spending a disproportionate amount of time deleting these abusive comments and blocking users. It was exhausting and upsetting. So we felt we needed to make a stand, to say that this kind of bullying, hateful behaviour has no place in our world; To promote a kinder, most positive online community.
Today, on ‘random acts of kindness’ day, feels like an important moment to highlight the #HellotoKindness campaign, because the message is clearly not getting through loud enough. A kind ethos underpins everything we do at HELLO! And we urge our community to think twice before you post, because how can you possibly know about the mental health of the person you are engaging with?
MORE: Here's how to help a friend who is suffering with their mental health
Don't assume that if someone looks gorgeous and happy, they feel happy, because we all carry our pain differently and we are all human. Tragically, Caroline is an example of this. Although I'm sure her story is infinitely more complex, experiencing kindness from other human beings can only help.
Please join our kindness movement by posting your message of support using the hashtag #HelloToKindness and together perhaps we can help a vulnerable person and turn the online world into the positive and supportive, kind community it was always meant to be.
To seek help, Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org.