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“5 Things We Can Each Do To Make Social Media And The Internet A Kinder And More Tolerant Place” With Carissa Lintao

Do you know that feeling of getting turned down by someone you like? You know, that gut-wrenching feeling of confusion, anger, and sadness? The person on the receiving end gets thwacked with those emotions every time a hurtful comment is targeted towards them. After a certain point, a person can only take so much abuse, […]


Do you know that feeling of getting turned down by someone you like? You know, that gut-wrenching feeling of confusion, anger, and sadness? The person on the receiving end gets thwacked with those emotions every time a hurtful comment is targeted towards them. After a certain point, a person can only take so much abuse, so you could imagine the resentment and hatred that someone feels after harboring pent up emotions.


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 Carissa Lintao. Carissa is a Kind Innovator & Founder of Apptuitive, an award-winning app marketing agency.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Carissa! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

My pleasure, thanks for the opportunity! I started freelancing on Upwork out of high school because I couldn’t find a “real job.” My second gig was with an app developer that needed questions & answers content for his “House of Cards” trivia app. I never watched a single episode, but I took it on because $50 is a lot for a 17-year old. Eventually, I completed the project and the client loved the work. He offered me more opportunities and practically opened up the floodgates.

More and more app-related projects kept falling into my lap and I started to realize it was my “thing.” As soon as I graduated college I launched Apptuitive, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m also fortunate enough to volunteer my time with organizations such as Technolochicas and write about sensitive tech issues I’m passionate about solving.

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

I never thought I’d end up on TV, but last year, I was fortunate enough to be featured on a documentary by Roadtrip Nation. Two other “road trippers” and I took an RV across the country interviewing leaders in tech such as Gary Vaynerchuk (VaynerMedia), Megan Smith (former US CTO), Cindy Eckert (The Pink Ceiling), and Stacy Spikes (formerly Movie Pass).

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?

The funniest mistake I made when I was starting was stressing out over not knowing how to incorporate the business. It wasn’t funny to me, but I know a lot of people would’ve found it funny, just because it’s common sense to so many founders. The lesson I learned was not to be afraid to ask for help.

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

A personal project I’m working on is shedding light on societal/tech issues through writing. There are a lot of problems that could easily be solved, such as lack of responsibility, and we need to start addressing them before they really start spiraling out of control.

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?

As of right now, I’m fortunate enough to say that I’ve never been publicly shamed on social media. However, I have been degraded through email & text.

Last year, a prospective client emailed me asking about my services. I explained to him that my focus was solely app store optimization at the time. He kept pushing me to offer him advertising services, but I politely said that wasn’t in the realm of my expertise, and even referred him to someone in my network. He then replied with, “its (advertising) called making money…do that and you will be very valuable…”

He was the first person to say something demeaningstraight to my face (or inbox), so as you could imagine, I was pretty upset and taken back. Not to mention, it was also confusing in a hurtful way seeing as I was only trying to help him.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

I vented to a friend but knew that I had to move on with my life. He wasn’t going to be the first or the last inconsiderate person I’d interact with.

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

I’m a relatively reserved person, and I wouldn’t comment anything I wouldn’t say in real life.

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?

Do you know that feeling of getting turned down by someone you like? You know, that gut-wrenching feeling of confusion, anger, and sadness? The person on the receiving end gets thwacked with those emotions every time a hurtful comment is targeted towards them. After a certain point, a person can only take so much abuse, so you could imagine the resentment and hatred that someone feels after harboring pent up emotions.

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

Words are words and have the same impact, whether they’re spoken in person or posted online. Social media is in fact, “real life” and it has real life consequences.

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

Hate speech, cyber-bullying, and uncalled for comments, all have serious real-life consequences. I’m not going to sit here and list numbers & devastating tragedies, because we all already know what has and will continue to happen if this behavior is tolerated.

How many documentaries, Netflix series, deaths, mental illnesses, and broken relationships is it going to take for all of us to get our acts together? It’s time to stop playing stupid and oblivious.

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?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that social media has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. We now have two separate ways of behaving: digital and physical. We’re taught morals & social etiquette as kids, but when it comes to the way we behave online ー we’re completely lost.

People say the internet and social media is ruining us, which is true to a point, but we’re ruining it. We don’t know how to constructively use it and we deliberately choose to be inconsiderate. Everyone knows we wouldn’t say half the things we say online if whoever we’re talking to (or about) was physically right in front of our face. Yet here we are in 2019, and you can’t even think of the term “social media” without thinking about controversy, clickbait, trolls, or out of control behavior.

We Don’t Think

Social media and messaging platforms are designed with immediacy in mind ー which makes it that much easier to say what’s on your mind without filtering it. In the world of design, this is sometimes referred to as “Don’t make me think” UX (user experience). People are meaner online is because it’s very easy to find validation.

Take a controversial Facebook video, for example, people that post outlandish comments are looking for attention from others that feel the same way. This taps into the “Us versus them” mentality and it’s not beneficial for either side. Look no further than the 2016 election as an example.

We Can’t See

A recent study conducted by Yale’s Crockett Lab suggests that not being able to physically see the emotional reactions of others may influence negative behavior online. Out of sight, out of mind.

In a 2019 world, people post a ton of political content, and it comes from a very raw place of stories and emotions. We need to realize that people are the way they are and feel the way they feel because of their experiences — whether good, bad, or neutral. What they post on social media is the equivalent of sharing bits & pieces of their identity. It’s a lot easier to talk about traumatic experiences or sensitive topics online than it is in person.

That said, I imagine a lot of people have visceral responses to what they share. If someone shared a piece of who they are and was crying right in front of your face, you probably wouldn’t be calling them names.

We’re Sensitive

It’s not a bad thing, because it’s what makes us human. However, things spiral out of hand when we don’t get a hold of ourselves. Another reason why people are meaner online is that we’re constantly bombarded with sensationalized content, bad news, and unfiltered thoughts. Social media isn’t exactly an environment that fosters positivity, so we’re not in a great place to begin with.

We’re being purposefully exploited and pitted against each other in the name of engagement. The real problem is that the average Joe doesn’t realize this. Again, our sensitivity isn’t a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when we can’t express our thoughts in healthy ways.

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?

If we want to start acting kind, we need to understand what kindness means in the first place. To me, kindness is made out of three parts:

Understanding

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes to see where they’re coming from. If you’re not even attempting to listen to them, why should they listen to you?

Selflessness

The person on the other side of the screen is an actual human being, so treat them like it. Even if it means you’re not the center of attention or you don’t get your point across immediately.

Help

What can you do to help the person? Help can mean a lot of things: complimenting them, hearing them out & adding to the conversation, sticking up for them, not tolerating abusive behavior, etc.

Five practical ways to start implementing kindness:

  1. Ask questions

We live in a divided country. Instead of being quick to lash out because someone says they’re a certain way, why don’t you try asking why? We’re all human beings, and we have more in common than you think. Find out what that person’s story is. There’s a lot more than meets the eye.

2. Call out inappropriate behavior

Report harmful content. It’s the platform’s responsibility, but it’s also up to us to draw attention to the issues we see.

3. Compliment

If someone ever complimented you, it probably made your day. According to research, genuine compliments increase positivity in relationships and overall happiness. It’s practically the equivalent of handing that person cash. Compliments don’t cost anything, start giving them out.

4. Stop comparing

Comparison is the thief of joy. Whether or not you intentionally compare yourself to others on social media, you need to start cultivating a higher sense of self-awareness to beat your mind at its own game. Practicing contentment and gratitude is a great place to start.

5. Don’t generalize

Throwing blanketed generalizations over someone’s opinions is not productive at all. Just like you wouldn’t want someone to categorize you, don’t do it to them. The same goes for name-calling.

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?

No one has the right to say anything harmful online in the name of free speech. If the Founding Fathers saw the impact of social media on society, they would roll over in their graves.

The fact that there aren’t any new laws or guidelines regarding online behavior blows my mind. If our leaders currently in power cared more about people instead of profits, this would not be the case. If they can move fast and break things with products, they can attempt to do the same for the wellbeing of everyone that uses the product.

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

Change the Business Model

Some say “Money is the root of all evil.” Money is definitely the root of the biggest ethical issues social media platforms face today. Any company that gladly profits off of hate, has a serious problem. And it’s a people problem.

Industry experts like Scott Galloway, have proposed many different great ideas as to how to go about changing the business models of Big Tech, but it’s up to shareholders to recognize the need for change and feel compelled enough to change first and foremost.

Verified Accounts

Someone recently launched DeepNude, an app that undresses women. This person was anonymous. If this person knew their real name was going to be attributed as the creator, I bet they wouldn’t have developed it in the first place.

If people can’t hide behind an alias, they’re going to think twice about how they behave online. Social media platforms need to start cracking down toxic anonymous accounts and start requiring users to use their real names.

Three-Strike Policy

Social media platforms are businesses. Just like when you’re shopping at an H&M or eating at a restaurant, you can’t say whatever hateful thing is on your mind in the name of free speech and not suffer consequences.

What if while you were shopping, someone started yelling racist comments and obscenities at you? The manager would ask you to leave the store or have you escorted out. If the behavior was completely out of hand, they might even place a restraining order. This is common-sense in real life, so why isn’t it the same online? If someone doesn’t follow the rules set by these platforms, they need to deal with management’s repercussions before they’re permanently banned from the platform.

Guidance

Social media platforms need to hold people to higher standards. Instead of dropping everyone into a free for all social network after they sign up, platforms should have an onboarding process that outlines how to ethically use the app/site. This would also go hand in hand with the three-strike policy, which would be introduced as soon as the user gets on the platform.

Another step I would take is implementing thoughtful prompts on social media posts. For example, instead of just commenting on a hurtful comment and immediately tapping the “comment” button, the new user interface would prompt a bubble that says “Your comment looks like it contains negative language, that could hurt Jesse. Do you still want him to see this comment?” It would be a design change just to make people second guess what they’re about to say.

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

“Just do it” is my favorite piece of advice, because there’s only so much advice you can listen to. The only way to find out what life has in store for you is to just start doing things.

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 🙂

I would love to meet with Tim Cook to get to know him better and discuss the ideas in this article. We share a lot of the same passions and I believe he’s one of the few that walks the walk.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on Instagram & Twitter @carissajaade, and LinkedIn @ Carissa Lintao.

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

I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts!


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