Growing up as a teenager in 2019 has its ups, and unfortunately, its downs, and a lot of that is linked back to our increasing reliance on social media. As we continue our #HelloToKindness campaign, we asked Roma Bright, Lydia Bright's 15-year-old sister and star of podcast The Bright's, for her insight:
"Social media. This powerful word seems to have an impact upon many, including me. It has advantages - it can make you feel great, give you a sense of worth and allow you to express your individuality. I'd even go as far as to say others' comments towards me have helped to shape my identity and challenged my mind set. The kindness of individuals on social has expanded both my knowledge and my hope that love defeats hate, that goodwill defeats envy.
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"A lot of messages I receive are from those who favour courage over bitterness, reminding me that it is okay not to be perfect, that in order to love our imperfections we have to love ourselves first. The kindest comments I receive are from those who thank me for helping to guide them in their life, that my words have touched them or that my determination, at a young age, has motivated them.
"But there is of course another side, and I admit I'm a worrier, especially when people project their negativity towards me. Many people seem to resent those with more followers than them, to think that they mustn’t have feelings and believe that the way to get attention is to wave a flag full of spiteful comments.
"These people choose to hate to get their point across, to share their views of someone or something or to try and defeat someone’s originality. Although some can brush it off, many take it to heart, however hard they try not to. I turn to my family for help. They have been the greatest help through all of my worries. My sisters Lydia and Georgia hold such a great understanding of social media; Lydia is continuously going through it herself, and is able to guide me towards the right decisions and help me to block out the hate.
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"I personally deal with hate by choosing strength rather than ignorance. I choose not to argue against someone, but rather to comment with my views in a friendly and open way. However, the main way I deal with mean comments is not by defending myself in an arrogant way, but instead by turning away, and instead focussing on those who chose love, growth and strive to bloom. Because, although many say I am seen as a role model, those who desire happiness and yearn to help others grow, truly are mine.
"I have to deal with hurtful comments on a daily basis. I’m not one for encouraging people whose hobbies consist of hurting others. I prefer to encourage strength rather than ignorance. We seem to stare at a phone full of smiling faces, good experiences and happiness, however we're rarely shown the reality of life. Our emotions are shared by an emoji, our happiness shared by quotes, our experiences are shared by posts. Some of us have lost the true meaning of life.
"I'm not discouraging the use of social media, as at 15 years old, I too scroll through posts. But I believe that growing up with social media means we all have to hold onto our individuality, we shouldn't try to copy people in a bid to compensate for our imperfections. We shouldn't have to hide our emotions and create a false view of our lives and we certainly should not confuse skinniness, clear skin or perfect curves with happiness. The one belief I hold strong is to be kind; social media holds such a great power and we shouldn’t challenge others with jealousy and greed. I'm ultimately proud to be part of a generation who have had an opportunity for such personal growth, have been given such an understanding of body positivity and feminism through social media. But at times, we have to understand we need to disconnect from the WiFi and reconnect with the world..."
Make a stand. Say #HelloToKindness. Post your kind message on Instagram today.