5 Things We Can Each Do To Make Social Media And The Internet A Kinder And More Tolerant Place, With Tosin Oguzie of Founder Sparks

PAUSE and think before you hit the submit button, ask yourself how you are contributing positively to the topic and consider how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the comment and then write your comment again if you really have to post it. If you have nothing positive to add, […]

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PAUSE and think before you hit the submit button, ask yourself how you are contributing positively to the topic and consider how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the comment and then write your comment again if you really have to post it. If you have nothing positive to add, then don’t post anything at all

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 interviewTosin Oguzie.

Tosin is the founder and CEO at Founder Sparks and The Founders HQ, a business and digital marketing agency and education platform for female-led businesses. Founder Sparks and The Founders HQ offer a set of services and business support memberships platform that gives entrepreneurs an edge in attracting customers and building their businesses, all of which are designed for the entrepreneur who is in the early stages of their business.

Her mission is to serve entrepreneurs and provide support by helping them navigate the launch, growth, and scaling of their businesses using digital marketing techniques.

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?

As a young girl born in Nigeria to entrepreneurial parents, I had always known I would follow suit and start my own business, I was earning money from my father’s business, at the very young age of 13.

I started my corporate career as a Project Management consultant working in the private sector for many years and after the birth of my first child, I realized that I loved the liberty of spending time with my son more than the job I had always loved. And it was at this point that I decided to set up an eCommerce store selling bridal accessories, this was a huge learning curve for me and it is what has led me to this point today working with female founders and would-be founders and helping them to make sense of and navigate the world of digital /online marketing and leveraging it to grow their business.

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

The story of how I started my first online business was a funny one, I had just had started my maternity leave , and I was due to have my first child four weeks from then. I thought what better way to spend the time than to set up my online store by myself, since my initial l engagement with a website development company was a complete waste of resources and time

I started putting plans for my online business in place, supplier agreement in place, I was working on the website and in the middle of the incomplete website I had my first sale — I was over the moon.

The website was nowhere near completed, and Initially I was so sure it was a fluke, how could anyone buy from that website as it was (I made sure to check with the customer that they really wanted to buy the item).

This really spurred me on, because, the orders started to trickle in for some time and believe it or not I was arranging fulfillment of orders even whilst I was in the hospital awaiting the birth of my child.

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 am not sure I‘ll describe it as funny, but when I first started the online business, because I had a first few sales sale ( I called it a fluke ) , I just assumed all I need for a thriving business was a website — OH how wrong I was, because when the orders dried up I was back to square one , confused frustrated and discouraged.

I knew nothing about marketing or how to promote my business, and it was the frustrations that came with the orders drying up that led me to start searching for answers on how I can promote my business.

This was what led me to offering my digital marketing services to small business owners like me and ultimately teaching them how to do if for themselves.

I realised there were so many people like me who had been told or have assumed that all they needed was a website built and people would come- which is a total farce and I vowed to help as many people gain the knowledge they need so that they don’t make the same mistakes I made.

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

I truly love teaching and sharing information. So, my new project? Two actually — A membership community for small businesses called The FoundersHQ and I am also starting my YouTube Channel where I will share tips, tools and resources that will help small female owned businesses to grow and I cannot wait to get started.

The FoundersHQ is a paid membership club for female entrepreneurs and side-hustlers looking for in-depth information on how to stand out and grow in the online space!

And on the You tube channel; I will share digital marketing strategies and I will also share how I navigate motherhood and entrepreneurship.

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?

Thankfully, I have not experienced public shaming or embarrassment on social media, but I know people who have, and it can be very upsetting when you have to go through it.

Being a content creator, I have had critiques on some content that I have put out, I do occasionally get someone who might share a few harsh comments, but I do my best to try to sift out the constructive criticism.

I think what is more difficult is when someone criticizes you for the way you look or talk rather than actually providing a constructive feedback on the work that you put out. The impact goes quite deep and could be damaging especially because of the reach that social media has, these negative comments are a fuel, and can very snowball very quickly.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

One of the ways I would deal with this, and I have encouraged my clients to deal with it is to shake it off and take a light-hearted approach to responding or even viewing these sort of comments

Sometime reading in between the lines to see how the negative feedback help up improve, but some comments are put out specifically to hurt and shame, these sorts of comments are best ignored, because they are from bullies who are not worth responding to.

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

Generally, I try not to post anything that could be considered “mean” or would constitute a personal attack, so I’m usually quite cautious of what I put out in writing, but that’s not to say I have not had instances where I have been tempted to write the first thing that came to mind.

In some cases, I have let myself get drawn into comments, whilst analyzing right or wrong where they are topics I care deeply about.

But many times I have pulled myself back and asked myself what effect my comments will have if written in the way I am about to post it. I make myself really think twice before hitting “send.”

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

Where it is a topic close to home, the decision to write the comment was always an emotional one but I always give myself time to think about my comment.

Most people post controversial comments online for a number of reasons:

  • They are either going through emotion and put out a comment on that basis, or
  • or they are just mean bullies who set out to hurt someone else

I think giving yourself time to think things through when something upsets you is best before writing a comment so that whatever message you want to get across comes across without being hurtful in the process

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?

Being on the receiving end of a public online critique is always a difficult one, it can be quite difficult to shake the feeling off sometimes and affect your morale, self-confidence. You feel exposed and could also feel like you are the target of everyone’s opinion which could leave you anxious and downcast for a period of time

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

Verbal online attacks are worse because you don’t know and sometimes can’t even see the person behind the attack, and it can very easily spiral and get out of hands whilst with real life verbal arguments you can gauge reactions and may be able to walk away from the situation if it escalates .

What also make the online attacks worse is that the comments are a free for all and being online you don’t know how widely it could spread and online comments can be permanent which would be a constant reminder for the recipient

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

Someone who is shamed online can suffer from depression and anxiety and this ultimately may also affect confidence and self-worth.

How you choose to let is affect you is up to you, you can either let the bully win and let it affect how you carry on, or you can decide to shake it off and come out stronger , but its best to expose it so if it more damaging the recipient can get help

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. Sometimes, some people are just looking to vent their frustrations on others, and are looking to inflict hurt as much as they are hurting
  2. It is more difficult to be confrontational in person, so hiding behind technology gives them the boldness they would not otherwise have because they can pretend to be someone they are not.
  3. Sometimes it is the feeling of anonymity without the need for accountability for their actions

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. PAUSE and think before you hit the submit button, ask yourself how you are contributing positively to the topic and consider how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the comment and then write your comment again if you really have to post it. If you have nothing positive to add, then don’t post anything at all
  2. Be your brother’s keeper: We can contribute by protecting the victim of abuse, by stepping in and discouraging people from fuelling the fire, if possible, report the abuse if caught in time to prevent it from getting out of hands
  3. Your opinions are not the only ones that matter or are correct, we all learn by differing opinions, so if you don’t agree with someone else’s opinion, you don’t have to lash out until they agree yours is the right one.
  4. Consider writing every post responsibly and remember, that a lot of what you put out there will probably stay out there permanently, so be constructive in your content, because it may come back to haunt you too.
  5. Don’t play into the hands of the online bullies. Learn to pick your battles, when you don’t respond or engage mean comments about you, you are telling the trolls they don’t have the power over you.

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 agree with blanket censorship. I believe everyone has a right to a free speech, but it should never be damaging to someone else’s reputation nor should it be an attack on a person all in the name of free speech.

There should be restrictions and penalties in place, where the content is an attack against someone else

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

  • I would place a lot of focus on monitoring content that is inciteful in nature or that targets someone or a group of people.
  • I would also seek to promote the ability to foster relationships more so that people flag such content and take actions ASAP to stop the attack before it gets out of hand
  • I would put in traffic checks for content that are going viral to ensure that it is not content that is tearing someone or a group of people down
  • I would include a pop-up, to get people to pause and thinking before hitting the send button (will work when people are posting based on emotion)

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

You Cannot overcome what you will not confront — T.D Jakes

For me this is a constant reminder , that whatever limitations , I have placed on myself or my abilities , until I work through it and attempt to conquer my fears , it will continue to hold me down , and this has been a great teacher and reminder whenever there is a new undertaking that I am worried about

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 🙂

Pat Flynn: I love what Pat has done and I still doing, how he is helping people to build a passive income.

I love how he brings you on a journey and he is very transparent about his work. I would love to sit down with Pat.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I can be found on

Instagram: @tosinoguzie


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

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