Don’t comment negatively on something that somebody can’t change in 10 seconds. Sure, if someone has lipstick on their teeth- please tell them! They’ll appreciate you. They won’t appreciate you, however, if you tell them you think they’d be prettier 50 pounds thinner.
As a part of my interview series about the things we can each do to make social media and the internet a kinder and more tolerant place, I had the pleasure to interview Shyla Day.
Shyla Day is a young award-winning singer/songwriter, TikTok Influencer, TEDx Speaker, best-selling author, and International Humanitarian. Her personal brand has garnered over 27 award nominations, distribution in 189 countries, landed her book and music in the largest retailers in the world, has endorsements from some of the most influential thought leaders in the world- and has made an impact on millions through thousands of charitable organizations globally. Shyla led a passionate talk on the TEDx platform with over 26 million subscribers, called “Music for Global Impact”, where she sparks conversation on unconventional humanitarian efforts- as a result, she was honored as “International Humanitarian of the Year” at the prestigious Fire Awards. Examples of other supported causes and initiatives include funding a dormitory for girls in Uganda, clean water, encouraging youth from all over the world to stand up to social issues that are important to them, education, a safety-audit that protected over 2.1 million students in the state of California, and much more! Shyla’s current projects include socially-conscious music activist series highlighting many causes. Claes Nobel, of the Nobel Prize Family, stated “Shyla…represents our very best hope for the future”. After 4 fans-choice nominations, 1M followers across platforms, and a multitude of radio, television, and media features we can easily say Shyla Day is one to watch!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Sure thing! I want to begin first off by saying thank you for creating a safe space in making this information accessible to the public on large platforms, because by doing so we give social media and other platforms their deserving, fighting chance to make positive and fruitful change. I love that you are using your platform as an opportunity to spread the message of being kind, especially on social media, which is a place where we often overlook. I am Shyla Day, and I am a singer/songwriter. I use my unique platform to do good! Personal experiences that have led me to do the work that I do stem from being raised in a single-mother home, social anxiety, and of my father passing of cancer. I can feel with my heart and I remember those that suffer greater than me. I grew a soft heart for people who struggle. I am lucky to have found a way to weave music into my larger goal and initiative of creating positive global change. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to use my platform to help others, you never know what someone else is going through in their own life, or the impact you will make on them so the first step to being a part of the positivity movement is to be kind!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
It’s been a long road of growth and overcoming many ‘eccentric’ situations that it’s hard to find something to bring up right off of the top of my head. The first experience I think of, is the bomb threat. Yep. Bomb threat. I was invited to a red carpet gala, where Stevie Wonder was to perform in LA. I got my hair and makeup done, by Kim Kardashian and Paris Hiltons makeup and hair artist, got a designer dress and trekked my way up to LA in 4 hours of traffic..only to arrive to the venue with swarms of law enforcement asking everybody to leave due to a bomb threat. I will never, ever forget that day. We drove back down, and ended up having a last minute photoshoot (who’s going to let a good look go to waste!?). If you don’t believe me ask my mom! Thank God, everyone was safe, I don’t think any bombs were found, and years later I was able to see Stevie perform in person, and get on TV with him at the All-Star Grammy Salute show. Crazy how things work out full circle in the end!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
English wasn’t my first language so sometimes I say words how I’d read them in my head. For example, I pronounced Vinyl incorrectly and being in music, my mom never lets me live it down! I’m also a Virgo, so I don’t find my mistakes to be funny most of the time, but I try to chalk it up to being human and learn. Even though, just now reading it in my head, I definitely mispronounced it again (I’ll learn one of these days)!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on a social activist series, to chat about what other influencers think about social issues! Knowing how it is to grow up in the public eye, many influencers find that its easier to not talk about these things but I find it to be very important, especially being a person that kids look up to, to lead by a great example and talk about things not talked about. I also have a new single coming out produced by Night Viber called “Selfish” and the official video which touches base on many causes such as world hunger, consumer culture, social media culture and climate change.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. Have you ever been publicly shamed or embarrassed on social media? Can you share with our readers what that experience felt like?
Oh, absolutely. Being in the public eye since I was young and growing an audience on social media, I grew up in front of the cameras. I’ve been insulted on TV, radio, and social media and it is not fun! Ive had my pictures used without my permission for weight loss ads, and had a red carpet videographer pan down to my naked toenails to ask why they weren’t painted. People tend to forget that I’m human. They see this glam life on social media, and assume that because I’ve seen success I’ve lost touch with my emotions. When if anything, each comment and remark builds up. People can be horrible behind a keyboard.
What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?
I take the time to love myself. To understand that I am human and I am allowed to feel feelings. To accept and learn from my mistakes. I think about how when people are reflecting judgment onto me, they are projecting outwardly how they actually feel about themselves. Then I pray for them and their healing.
Have you ever posted a comment on social media that you regretted because you felt it was too harsh or mean?
I have. I deleted it immediately, and I still felt horrible after… I definitely grew from that mistake.
Can you describe the evolution of your decisions? Why did you initially write the comment, and why did you eventually regret it?
Its so easy to get caught up in your own emotion, that you forget that there are actual humans who are going to feel the sting of your words on the other side of the screen. I’ve been cyber-bullied, and just bullied in general in so many ways that I’d just hate to intentionally make someone else feel that way.
When one reads the comments on Youtube or Instagram, or the trending topics on Twitter, a great percentage of them are critical, harsh, and hurtful. The people writing the comments may feel like they are simply tapping buttons on a keyboard, but to the one on the receiving end of the comment, it is very different. This may be intuitive, but I feel that it will be instructive to spell it out. Can you help illustrate to our readers what the recipient of a public online critique might be feeling?
There is 1 word I think of when I read something online that hurts my feelings. Unwelcome.
Nobody wants to be where they aren’t accepted and welcomed, it’s just human nature. Thats why you see some celebrities delete their socials and then come back after they’ve healed- its a lot to process internally, especially at larger scale.
Do you think a verbal online attack feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? How are the two different?
Honestly, I think the online version might hit harder for me! It’s the fact that you have the time, alone, by yourself to think about it and process the words internally. In a verbal argument, at least you have the direct chance to defend yourself if need be!
What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?
Humans are human. I know it seems so simple but if you are human, you also have a fragile emotional system. When a person gets hurt over and over, subconsciously it still hurts- even if you try to ignore it, even if you try to brush it off- it’s still in your complex-wired brain even if its deeply buried in there. Until finally, “the straw that breaks the camels back”. One comment, one tweet, one remark at the wrong time can trigger mental health issues, eating disorders, social disorders, depression, anxiety, and unfortunately it can also cause the end of someones life. This is why its so important to be kind online- you never know how deeply your words will effect someone else- ultimately, its better to be safe than sorry.
Many people who troll others online, or who leave harsh comments, can likely be kind and sweet people in “real life”. These people would likely never publicly shout at someone in a room filled with 100 people. Yet, on social media, when you embarrass someone, you are doing it in front of thousands of even millions of people, and it is out there forever. Can you give 3 or 4 reasons why social media tends to bring out the worst in people; why people are meaner online than they are in person?
- They don’t fear reprisal. In other words, you don’t have the immediate social backlash and judgement from others around you that you would have in person, when you are alone typing away at your keyboard.
- The fact that they are behind a screen, makes it easier to say what they wouldn’t say in person. If someone is shy, and often soft-spoken they might seek the boost in self esteem.
- They don’t have to see the other person hurt.
- They lack self-control, and don’t think before they post.
If you had the power to influence thousands of people about how to best comment and interact online, what would you suggest to them? What are your “5 things we should each do to help make social media and the internet, a kinder and more tolerant place”? Can you give a story or an example for each?
I’ll try to keep this one simple!
1.) Don’t comment negatively on something that somebody can’t change in 10 seconds.
Sure, if someone has lipstick on their teeth- please tell them! They’ll appreciate you. They won’t appreciate you, however, if you tell them you think they’d be prettier 50 pounds thinner.
2.) If you weren’t asked for advice or for your opinion directly, don’t give it to someone without their permission.
Sometimes people like to use their social profiles to publicly proclaim how they feel about a situation, cause, or topic; not really looking for conversation. Ask for permission if you’d like to share your thoughts. Let them know you might disagree with their point of view, and that you’re curious to have a conversation.
3.) If you see someone being mean to somebody else on the internet, or in person- stand up for them!
I’ll never forget the first time one of my followers stood up for me on behalf of a mean comment. That itself cancelled out the mean words, made me feel welcome, and human again. Its a good reminder that someone out there cares!
4.) Ignore and/or delete any negativity on your profile.
You don’t need to hold onto their comment/post anywhere in your space. The internet lives forever. Instead of hosting that negativity buried somewhere in your profile- where you can find it and re-live, delete it and spend no more time and energy on it.
5.) Remember that anything negatively said to you, is just a projection of how the sender feels about themselves.
How someone else feels about you is simply not your problem. Clear out the space and make room for some positivity to bloom!
Freedom of speech prohibits censorship in the public square. Do you think that applies to social media? Do American citizens have a right to say whatever they want within the confines of a social media platform owned by a private enterprise?
Yes, freedom of speech is important, but it’s no excuse to be unkind! You can voice your opinion or even have a civil discussion with somebody without being rude or unjust. In situations where you are passionate and getting heated (which can be related to the most recent election situation for example) there is a line you can draw, and it’s called ‘agree to disagree’. All in all, I think it says more about who is typing the message than anything. It’s easy to be mean. It takes less self control. The person being kind is the stronger, more emotionally developed person in the end.
If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?
I think they’ve done it already, by creating the ‘block’ feature. You do not need to tolerate negativity on your page or in your headspace. With the block button, you control who has direct access to you. I think that is powerful on its own, and definitely helps avoid more comments from a serial internet troll.
As for the user, I’d say practice more privacy in what you let the world see if you don’t think you can take the online attacks. Limiting screen time is also important.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Id like to share 2 quotes with you.
“You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is one of those quotes that you’ll feel in your heart. “Too late” means something different for everybody. For me, like we talked about earlier- it reminds me about “the straw that broke the camels back”. You never know where someone is in their life, how healed or freshly hurt they might be. It’s just better to be kind.
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone.” — Sam Levenson
I absolutely love this quote.Being in an industry where beauty and perfection are of such focus, I had to sneak it in.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
It would be a dream come true to meet Ellen, Rihanna, Lizzo, Jojo Siwa and Ashley Graham. Powerhouses who built empires on kindness, self-love, acceptance, equality, and positivity!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I can be found at www.ShylaDay.com, on Instagram @Shyla_Day and on TikTok as @ShylaDay
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!
Of course,Thank you for having me! I always have a great time talking with you!