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

Personally, I think online verbal attacks feel much worse to the person because you can’t confront the person in the same manner that you could in real life. When you are a public figure, online entrepreneur or influencer, you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, especially when it comes to interacting with your […]


Personally, I think online verbal attacks feel much worse to the person because you can’t confront the person in the same manner that you could in real life. When you are a public figure, online entrepreneur or influencer, you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, especially when it comes to interacting with your audience. I’m not saying that you can’t respond to the nasty comments, especially if they are filled with hateful rhetoric. After all, you want your social media platforms to be a positive, safe space for all who are involved, including you. That being said, the way that you respond to online comments is very different that how you would handle things in real life. I always tell my clients to, “pause before posting.” You don’t want to let your emotions get the best of you and essentially lower yourself to the level of the troll leaving nasty remarks on your content. Instead of responding to the comment, hide it, delete it, or report it to the social media platform you are using.


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 Margaux J Rathbun. Margaux is a social media influencer from the health and wellness industry. She is also the owner of MBM Marketing Management and works as a Marketing Manager for influencers and entrepreneurs who are looking to increase their brand presence on social media. Margaux acts as a mentor to her clients, guiding them through the journey of becoming successful business owners. She specializes in working with “elevated influencers” who are entrepreneurs looking to build their social media platform as a way to encourage and inspire their followers in positive ways.


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

Of course! I got started as a health and wellness influencer almost ten years ago…back when the term “influencer” wasn’t even a thing. When people asked what I did for a living, I wasn’t sure what to tell them! Here’s how that conversation usually went, “Well, I have a very large following on Facebook and I share photos, recipes, nutrition tips and products on a daily basis.” This answer was always met with blank stares and even more questions! As I continued my career as an influencer, I gained an abundance of experience in content creation and online marketing. I was constantly learning new skills, techniques and strategies to help build my brand as a health and wellness influencer. I even went back to school and I’m currently very close to obtaining my master’s degree in marketing. A few years ago, I started getting messages from entrepreneurs who wanted me to help them grow their businesses. I was thrilled to help and as more people reached out to me, I decided to start my company, MBM Marketing Management. I currently work with business owners and influencers all around the world, helping them develop their businesses while establishing their platforms on social media.

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

I thoroughly enjoyed my two-week wellness speaking tour in the Philippines because it gave me an opportunity to meet my followers in person. I traveled to Manilla and Cebu City and had such a great time seeing the sites, eating lots of amazing meals and of course, getting to know everybody! I also loved working with the team at PerezHilton.com for many years. I had a blast recording nutrition videos and writing wellness articles for Perez’s websites and this opportunity allowed me to share my message of authentic wellness with an even larger audience than my website could provide.

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?

It wasn’t really a mistake but more of a memorable experience. I remember back when I first got started, I shared a post on Facebook about fava beans and how we can incorporate them into our diet. I must be the only person in the world who hasn’t seen the movie, Silence of the Lambs, because I was super confused about all the memes, movie quotes, and jokes this post received. My followers had a heyday with that post! It was pretty funny.

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

I am currently working on my first book which should be released in mid-2020. This is a fun, fresh, and informative book packed with information that walks entrepreneurs through the steps they need to take in order to become a successful social media influencer.

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 yes…many times. I have always had a rather larger gap in my teeth and sometimes, the comment sections on social media would point this out in a rather mean way. My weight has also fluctuated over the years and people have taken notice of this. Because I was in the health and wellness industry, I would see name-calling comments and statements saying that I clearly didn’t practice what I preached. Of course, these comments hurt me to my core. I was bullied as a child for being overweight and not being pretty. When these comments started surfacing, it brought up feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

I would pivot away from thinking about these appearance-shaming comments by focusing on all the followers that found value in my content. I would read the messages my followers would send me and spend time looking at the positive comments and shares my posts would receive. I also have found that when you are feeling really bad about yourself and can’t stop thinking about what people are saying, turning off the computer and taking a break from social media is very helpful.

Have you ever posted a comment on social media that you regretted because you felt it was too harsh or mean? Can you describe the evolution of your decisions? Why did you initially write the comment, and why did you eventually regret it?

Oh, I am sure that I have! That being said, I most likely would delete it after the comment was posted. Because I have a strong online presence for my businesses, it is important that I stay out of drama, not get involved in political discussions and avoid sharing or saying anything that is negative or hurtful to people. My entire online platform is focused on sharing authentically positive messages to help people live a happy and healthy life. It is important that I “walk the walk and talk the talk.” But I will be honest…I am human and it is all too tempting for me to “sound off” when something doesn’t seem right or fair to me! When I get that urge, that is my cue to step away from the keyboard and do something offline.

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?

If you ever feel the urge to sound-off on somebody’s social media post, remember this: Content creators and influencers go to great lengths to produce content that they feel will resonate with their audience…often times, the content being shared is not monetized (meaning they aren’t making any money from it). What many people don’t realize is that this free content can take an abundance of time for the content creator to create. Have you ever uploaded a video to your social media platforms? Have you ever written a blog post? If you have, you would know how much work goes into creating these types of posts. Think how badly you would feel if you spent hours creating a video only to receive nasty comments and negative feedback. It would feel pretty discouraging, right? So, don’t be that person who makes others feel discouraged about their content creation efforts. Don’t hide behind your keyboard and pass judgement on these people, especially if you aren’t willing to put yourself out there on social media yourself.

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

Personally, I think online verbal attacks feel much worse to the person because you can’t confront the person in the same manner that you could in real life. When you are a public figure, online entrepreneur or influencer, you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, especially when it comes to interacting with your audience. I’m not saying that you can’t respond to the nasty comments, especially if they are filled with hateful rhetoric. After all, you want your social media platforms to be a positive, safe space for all who are involved, including you. That being said, the way that you respond to online comments is very different that how you would handle things in real life. I always tell my clients to, “pause before posting.” You don’t want to let your emotions get the best of you and essentially lower yourself to the level of the troll leaving nasty remarks on your content. Instead of responding to the comment, hide it, delete it, or report it to the social media platform you are using.

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

In my experience in working with online entrepreneurs and influencers, the negative comments can really take a toll on their confidence and prevent them from wanting to share more content online. The comments can really dig-in and feed that feeling of being an imposter, something that I would say 99.9% of my clients have experienced.

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?

When we are on social media, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. We look at perfectly staged photos of people having the time of their lives, traveling to exotic locations, eating the fanciest of food and think to ourselves, “I guess I’m not doing as well as I thought. Compared to this, my life sucks!” That’s when jealously rears its ugly head and people who are typically nice in “real life” lash out online. Why? They think that leaving a nasty comment will downplay how jealous they really are and make them feel better about their own lives. In reality, this knee-jerk reaction just perpetuates an ongoing cycle of insecurity and unhappiness. Another reason people leave nasty comments is because being online makes them feel empowered. When we have confrontations in real life, people have the opportunity to defend themselves. We get into arguments, yell at each other, and hopefully come to a peaceful resolution. When we are confronting people on social media? Not so much. Because the person on the receiving end can’t react or defend themselves as they would in real life, we feel powerful and in control of the situation. It feels like we have the final word…we’ve won the argument and proved our point! I believe this false sense of empowerment is a key factor in why kind people will lash out online. Finally, when we leave nasty comments, we feel hidden and protected by our monitors and keyboards. There is this sense of having a veil of anonymity conceal who we really are and what we really think. This feeling of protection enables us to leave comments, spew hate and basically act in a socially-unacceptable manner.

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 give you the same advice that I give to all of my new online entrepreneur and influencer clients…the tone of social media starts with you. Here’s how:

  1. Stay positive: If you have ANY type of social media platform (a personal Facebook page, a business Instagram account, etc.), you have the opportunity to change the narrative of social media. The content that you share, the comments that you post, all of these actions are what dictates whether or not social media is going to be a safe and positive environment for everyone who uses it. Focus on sharing content that is inspiring, engaging, uplifting and educational. Focus on lifting people up and bringing a smile to their face! I promise that you will feel better knowing that you might have made somebody’s day a little brighter.
  2. Be mindful: Whether you are simply browsing through your newsfeed or thinking about posting content, make sure that you are using social media in a mindful way. This means being intentional with what you are doing and what you are sharing. Having a purpose for using social media means you’re less likely to get sucked into the time vortex of mindlessly scrolling through people’s accounts, comparing yourself to their content. It means that you won’t lash out at others on whim if you see a post that you don’t agree with. Using social media with intention can be a very positive and powerful thing. So, when you log in to your social media accounts, have a predetermined reason for why you are using it in the first place. Be mindful and stay focused on your purpose.
  3. Pause before posting: Usually when we post something that is negative, hurtful and just downright nasty, it’s because we had a knee-jerk emotional response to something that we saw. Being mindful with social media will help to prevent this as will taking a moment to pause before hitting the post button. Anytime you are about to share something on social media, ask yourself these questions: Does this content encourage, empower, and inspire others? What benefit does it bring to others? Does this content reflect who I truly am? What kind of reaction do I anticipate this content receiving? Taking a minute to reflect on what you are about to share can really help you avoid leaving emotionally-charged and negative responses.
  4. Don’t get political: This is a tough one because social media is flooded with political topics….and I anticipate that it’s about to get worse with the upcoming US election. While you are 100 percent entitled to your own political beliefs, I recommend staying out of politics, especially on the social media pages that you use for business. Keep these pages focused on sharing content that promotes your business and engages your followers in positive ways. If you feel strongly about getting into political debates, use your personal social media accounts. Again, just be mindful about what it is that you post and share.
  5. Don’t take anything on social media personally: Let’s say you share a video on social media and you receive a few nasty remarks in the comment section. It’s important that you don’t take whatever these people are saying personally. After all, they don’t truly know you, do they! They are reacting to their perceived interpretation of who you are as an online entrepreneur and influencer. Separate yourself from the content that you share, even if it is providing your followers with a “personal glimpse” into your life. Remember that anybody who reacts negatively to your content doesn’t really know who you are and what you are all about. Keep your skin thick and your heart soft.

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 don’t think that hate speech should be tolerated in any way, shape or form, especially if it threatens, insults, alienates or silences individuals based on who they are, where they come from, what they do and what they look like. This applies to both real life and social media.

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

As a way to facilitate a safe environment on social media, I would recommend that the major platforms offer additional resources and online trainings as a way to help page admins combat hate speech on their own accounts. Many of the major platforms already have an option to hide and report comments. I believe this is a step in the right direction as it gives social media users the control to regulate their community according to their personal standards.

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

The saying, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” has always resonated with me, especially when it comes to sharing and responding to content on social media. Before you judge somebody, you have to take a moment to really understand their current situation. Perhaps a person is leaving negative comments because they are going through a difficult time. I have always found that when people are hurtful and mean to you, it’s a reflection of something that they are experiencing on a personal level. So before you judge somebody, take a minute to think about the persons experiences, challenges and current situation.

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 have a lot of respect for the Australian-based artist and entrepreneur, Jane Davenport. She has done an amazing job in creating an art empire that inspires people of all artistic levels to spend time creating mixed media pieces every day. She has personally inspired me to get back in to my hobby of art journaling. Spending time each day to work on my art is a great way to stay balanced and keep me in the flow of awesome creative ideas. Thanks Jane!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

If you are an entrepreneur or influencer looking for some guidance with marketing, I would invite you to visit my website at www.managedbymargaux.com. You can also follow me on Instagram at @managedbymargaux and connect with me on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/margauxjrathbun. Send me a note! I’d love to learn more about your business and goals for establishing a strong AND positive platform on social media.

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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