5 Things We Can Each Do To Make Social Media And The Internet A Kinder And More Tolerant Place, With Andrew Mondia

What you put out will come back to you. Social media is used when applying for jobs these days. So, if you are nice in person but mean online a prospective business might think twice about hiring you. As a part of my interview series about the things we can each do to make social media […]

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What you put out will come back to you. Social media is used when applying for jobs these days. So, if you are nice in person but mean online a prospective business might think twice about hiring you.

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 Andrew Mondia. Andrew is known as “The Intuitive Traveller” having lived and worked all over the world from Canada to Europe to Asia and back again. He has worked with award-winning actors, directors and authors on stage/screen to promoting successful books. In his own life, he has also written and produced his own one-man show, is a podcast host and a #1 International Best-Selling Co-Author of My Journey My Journal. Best described as “A unique combination of child-like enthusiasm and innocence coupled with worldly ambition and determination.” His mission in life is to serve and inspire through laughter by bringing joy to the people he meets and performs for through various mediums.

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?

I never felt a place I could call home. I was born in BC -Canada and for most of my life grew up in Vancouver then near Victoria BC Canada. My family origin is Swiss (which I am as well) from the Italian part but I also have ties to the US as a result of my paternal side. I grew up not living near my relatives except for right after I was born, we did live for almost a year in Switzerland.

I knew I was different than the other kids growing up. I was teased/bullied and only had a couple friends. At school I was still outgoing despite my challenges and was the ever-helpful eager beaver. At home, I stayed in my room watching TV and dreaming about life on TV being in my own reality as my home life was negative growing up. I loved to entertain and when I was 14 an event changed my life. When school started in grade eight, it was the first Friday when I was told, my grandfather in Switzerland (who looked after me as a toddler and only remember seeing once) passed away. A light switch turned on inside me while I was numb and I made a conscious decision about what I wanted to do in life. I chose to take my passion in acting and pursue it as a career choice. But even then… when I was not acting, I always strived to be the light in the chaos I strived to look for the good in everyone I meet even those who were not nice to me. My journey has taken me to live in London UK for 7 years then back for a 3rd time to Switzerland then China to teach English for 10 months before deciding to return to North America. I am currently based in Toronto.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I remember when I lived in Vancouver and was working on this commercial. There were five of us guys each under a spotlight. Unsure what happened or why it did but my hair got hot as we were on a black set. At one point, it started to smoke. Someone on crew called out my character name and was like you are on fire. Smoke started to rise from my head as a result. They had to place tin foil on my head in order to prevent anything further from happening.

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?

What was funny turned out to be a great audition even though I didn’t get the part. I was at a callback for a major film that was originally scripted as Ugly Americans for a major studio. The part was a nerd who was the brunt of teasing by the popular kids. There is a monologue in this audition and I was so in character not knowing that I changed line from “hairy apes” to Planet of the Apes.”

What is interesting is… I wasn’t worrying instead I was just going with the moment. One of my challenges is I think too much and worry that I didn’t do a great job. This was one audition where I just was in the moment and went with it.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I have been working on a new one man show about my life and travels called “The Intuitive Traveller.” I am hoping it will inspire people about traveling and about our differences. Accepting them and to have fun. After all being different is fun.

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?

Not a lot but I have been shamed over a story I went to the media about when I was sacked in London for being a Santa Claus at a high-end department store on Oxford St back in 2008. Some blogger online took out of context in their post without knowing the full facts. I wrote to them of my side and they refused to hear me out. I learned really that you need to have a tough skin. You can even use it in your work later maybe. Make a positive spin out of it. I did feel a bit shameful at the time but at the same time it was learning lesson to prepare me for when negative things can happen in my line of work.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

I did my best to move on as life is too short to let it worry you. It did take me a week to process everything and the aftermath. I talked with people I knew and got their feedback and support. It helps to have a great network of friends. I did get out of it a photo model job and was on the cover of the G2 insert magazine Christmas edition dressed as Santa Claus once again working with a prize award winning artist.

Have you ever posted a comment on social media that you regretted because you felt it was too harsh or mean?

I have posted and later regretted posting things. I wouldn’t call it harsh or mean but telling the truth. Though can be very easy for people to take what you write out of context. Especially if you are the kind of person who tells it as it is and not sugar coats it. After all truth does hurt for a lot people.

Can you describe the evolution of your decisions? Why did you initially write the comment, and why did you eventually regret it?

I would rather be an inspiration then tear down someone. If I can I will do my best to shed light and educate people. Sometimes people post from what they see and do not actually discover more about that topic. Judge on just what they read. Not everything you read is black and white. If one side is only given then educate and inform the other person. Speak from your heart as if you it was you receiving it. Remember the people you react to are your mirrors and does reflect back to you.

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?

Not everyone has a tough skin. Think of being in that person’s shoes really. Would that comment be beneficial to you if someone else wrote what you are writing? We live in a world where drama is around us every day. You are harming yourself as well as maybe the other person. It shows your lack of respect. Though if being on the receiving end the feelings could run deep if said person had self-esteem issues or self-worth. Sometime negative comments can even lead one to suicide as result. I have read some stories where that has happened. Really educate yourself. Focus on what you want vs “so and so did this how awful. What moron said person is. Why don’t they jump off a bridge!” Just like in life when we speak to people the same goes true for online and on social media. Remember it is easy to give pain in words but hard to undo.

Do you think a verbal online attacks feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? How are the two different?

Both are equally as damaging. Maybe not as strong but words hurt no matter whether written or verbal. With verbal you get the emotional attack as well and sometimes it can sit in a person if nothing is done to dissolve what just happened. I have experienced both types. Written is one where it is not as strong but can still be powerful. Also, one sees the writing and comes from a visual point. It is easy to get caught up rather than take a step back and let it roll off.

What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?

Really depends on the person. It helps to do personal development work on yourself as I have done. No one is perfect and you learn more about yourself. Get to your core essence and understanding of your own way of doing things. The stronger you are inside the easier it is to let it go. If not, you never know what reactions can happen that could affect you in your everyday life. Outbursts in wrong places can happen and may result in something serious if you are not careful. Emotions build up when suppressed but it gets easier when they’re let go.

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?

  1. Easier to hide behind a computer and not have to face a person
  2. They think it’s just words written down that don’t harm anyone but really can
  3. Possibly they could have a “Jekyll and Hyde” social media persona.

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?

  1. Treat online like real life. What you put out will come back to you. Social media is used when applying for jobs these days. So, if you are nice in person but mean online a prospective business might think twice about hiring you.
  2. No harm in being kind online as well. You will feel good about yourself. I have known someone who was going through something online and offering words of encouragement far out way and stay strong for a person who needs to hear it at that time.
  3. Keep it Positive… we can use more light online and focus on the good in life. Too much negative about life or people in power. For instance, instead of telling people you are stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire waiting for the longest time for help… put a spin like waiting for help with my flat tire gives me time to think on the blessings I have in my life.
  4. Share your inspiring thoughts… I am sure you have words of wisdom to impart to people. Instead of holding in… let it out. More goodness in sharing your thoughts the more you will feel good about yourself. Like number 2 sharing your inspiration can uplift someone going through a hard time like a tough day at work.
  5. Connect with People… Social Media is a great place to meet people too. I have met some wonderful people from afar. Some I even met in person. You never know where inspiration can hit for you in your next journey. Who knows maybe a job opportunity awaits?

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?

Really depends cause if it’s not harmful to others then great to have the freedom. But people take to social media to force an opinion. That is not cool. Great to share your opinion but understand that a good debate is when each respect the others opinion. You never know where new insights of how another think comes from with a great debate.

Americans do have a right but also remember what I said above. As long as it’s not harmful to another individual.

If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?

Real challenge really but would make sure more fairness is given. Have a better online customer support to deal with issues like this. Facebook seems to not value the users and no way to be reached out to really. Important a platform listens to users or has a place where it can be monitored the complaints.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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 🙂

Ryan Murphy due to the many great works he produces on television being inclusive to actors in the minority and tackling interesting topics. Two of my fav shows he produced are Glee and Pose.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am on all major platforms and some more like Facebook and Instagram. At least trying to be out there more. Look for Andrew Mondia. @andrewmondia on most or /andrewmondia!

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

About the author:

Yitzi Weiner is a journalist, author, and the founder of Medium’s Authority Magazine. He is also the CEO of Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator, which guides leaders to become prolific content creators. A trained Rabbi, Yitzi is also a dynamic educator, teacher and orator. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and children.

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