…it tends to dig a lot deeper than an off the cuff attack in person. The internet is one of those things that we haven’t mastered as humans. We don’t understand how real, both positively and negatively comments, posts and arguments are.
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 Mandy Morris, international best selling author of Love… It’s How I Manifest, and creator of the Authentic Program Series. Mandy’s science and love based methods for creating instant and lasting change have been studied and taught by therapists, coaches and counselors in the Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Ireland, Norway and the US.
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?
When I was 13 my father called me as he attempted suicide. He was basically wanting to say goodbye. It was so confusing that there was enough darkness in the world that someone would want to take their life. It was one of the many life events that catapulted me into trying to better understand the pain of the world.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
During one of our events there was a beautiful hearted woman that came. She had been in a severely abusive relationship and had no self love or faith in her life ever being beautiful. Within the first half of the first day she shared she had never felt love like she felt in the room and said she was suicidal before coming. She cried saying she genuinely didn’t feel suicidal anymore. I know how much the work changes lives but to be healed just through the energy of love rocked me.
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?
I remember my first big financial month when I first started. I thought it would last forever so I spent it helping people and paying things off. The next month I tanked compared to the prior and it made me realize I had a lot more internal work as an entrepreneur to do to create the consistent monthly growth I have now. Digging into my beliefs around growth, and how to be a creative, as well as a structured entrepreneur was definitely a learning curve for me.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes my team and I always are, and I tend to have 5 fires burning at all times. The most exciting project on my desk is creating a program that is an entire year long that completely rewires someone’s thoughts, beliefs and life in all areas of their life.
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?
Daily and still am! The majority of my business is run online with advertisements. When someone gets triggered by perhaps the words I use, or even the way I look, they can be pretty brutal. When I first began these ads years ago it hurt me, I wanted people to know that I had pure intentions, that what I said was true and I wanted to explain myself to people if someone said I was lying. Now it has no effect on me as I see what the internet is capable of.
What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?
Compassion all the way. I began to truly understand that old saying, “it’s not about you”. I knew there was something I was saying that triggered them, or perhaps they had a bad day and needed a punching bag. I did my best to love them for their misguided anger because that type of compassion heals the world. My business has grown to where I don’t have the capacity to see the comments often, but when I did I tried to pour love and understanding into the situation. To respect their stance. It diffused it immediately, brought so much love to the thread as more people saw my loving response, and transmuted anger into neutrality or sometimes even love on their end.
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?
I’ve worked with some of the folks I certify about this in the past to help them not be affected when they are shining their light, as I call it. It’s as painful as being bullied in front of a crowd. People can think through their comments for longer so it’s sometimes even more painful as they create the words that hit like daggers. It causes a full on physical body response- stomach hurts and chest is tight.
Do you think a verbal online attacks feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? How are the two different?
It does in the sense that someone can consider their comment, take their time typing and thinking it out so it tends to dig a lot deeper than an off the cuff attack in person. The internet is one of those things that we haven’t mastered as humans. We don’t understand how real, both positively and negatively comments, posts and arguments are.
What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?
It’s the same as any other shaming, it doesn’t go away without healing. It can change someone completely, shut them down emotionally, dislike or even hate themselves, feel unworthy, unacceptable and isolated.
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?
I relate it to virtual reality or video games. Sometimes we take on the game as if it’s real, and sometimes we take on the internet as if it’s not. When you can’t personally see how your comment effects someone because they aren’t physically in front of you, you can’t see their face drop, the shoulders cave in, or the tears fall. We become children again not understanding the consequences of our actions because the internet is a world we are still learning.
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 have this saying, “love people wherever they are at.” It makes no sense to try to get the world to think exactly as you do unless you’re promoting something that frees them. Accept people’s stances, love them as they are, stay away from them if they are vexatious, and remember that every action you take in life, the internet included, either makes this world a kinder and more loving place, or it does the opposite. Clearly pick what side of the line you’re going to be on and hold true to that even in triggering moments.
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?
I personally don’t think it’s the same. All social media platforms are a business that was owned and created by someone else with the ability to shut it down and we lose that platform all together. Similarly to my business communities I run, if someone doesn’t follow the rules set out, they have to be removed so it doesn’t poison everyone else.
If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?
Facebook already has a neat ability to hide comments that have certain words you’ve chosen aren’t acceptable. If Facebook could create some type for. Scanning algorithm for key phrases it would be neat for a pop up to come up and say something like, “this sounds hateful/negative, are you sure you’d like to post it?” So people can think twice before spewing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Everything in life is a choice. It’s shown me that my decisions in young adulthood and forward were mine to own and mine to change.
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 🙂
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook fan page- Mandy Morris
YouTube- Mandy Morris
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.