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Agnes Muljadi: Here Are 5 Things We Can Each Do To Make Social Media And The Internet A Kinder And More Tolerant Place

Social media is full of people who seem to have an unlimited amount of free time. They just have nothing else better to do. To be fair, there are a lot of social media influencers who through content help create unrealistic expectations of what a perfect life and body should look like and it’s completely […]


Social media is full of people who seem to have an unlimited amount of free time. They just have nothing else better to do. To be fair, there are a lot of social media influencers who through content help create unrealistic expectations of what a perfect life and body should look like and it’s completely disconnected with reality, and that can make people feel badly about their own selves, and then take it out on others. I’ll be the first person to recognize that. I do think there is a lot of noise in social media that doesn’t really help or contribute to making the world a better place. It has forced me to look at my own content and ask myself, does this post educate, inspire or empower people? If the answer is no, then there’s really no need to share it other than to stroke your own ego.


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 Agnes Muljadi, a Los Angeles based vegan ballerina, holistic nutritionist, writer and speaker. Perhaps best known as social media influencer @artsyagnes with half a million followers on Instagram, Agnes’ plant-based journey began in 2014 shortly after she discovered a rapidly growing tumor on her breast. Within a year subsequent to her diagnosis, Agnes radically changed her diet and lifestyle to begin transforming her health from within. Through her holistic wellness platform Agnes continues to empower and educate people to take charge of their health and transform their lives by adopting a plant-based diet and sustainable lifestyle. Agnes has received extensive media coverage for her diverse talents, including features in numerous publications such as Dance Magazine, Huffington Post and SheKnows.


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?

It is my pleasure to chat with you! I appreciate you taking the time for me. Well, I started my journey as a professional ballet dancer — I’m classically trained at Julia Bourlina Classical Ballet in Studio City, here in California — and one day decided to post a ballet image of myself on Instagram. The photo went viral and my social media presence kept growing from that point on. I suddenly realized that people still appreciated the art of ballet, and how that ties into healthy living. It’s awesome to have this platform of half a million people, to spread awareness about nutrition, exercise and a healthy mind and life in general. These days I spend the majority of my time with my wellness and life coaching clients as well as sharing what I love through my mastermind group. I love to teach and continue to learn from others as well. I never want to stop learning, and appreciating.

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

I’d have to say having that photo ‘go viral’ on Instagram was probably the most interesting and unexpected thing that has happened in my career. It cleared a path that I didn’t realize was there, and has opened doors for me to continue to do what I love, which is to focus on health and wellness. I’d say I’m lucky, but I have also worked very hard to make a life and a career out of what I love and want to do.

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

Yes! Thanks for asking. I’m happy to share that I just launched a fundraiser to help support LGBTQ youth homelessness. My friends and I will be using 100% of the funds raised to put together care packages filled with daily essentials (like feminine care products, socks, toothbrushes, tooth paste), and will deliver them directly to the LGBTQ youth living on the streets in Los Angeles. Donations will also be used to provide emergency housing for the youth. I’ve been working closely with a few extended-stay motels and tiny house developers in the area, to maximize the impact of the campaign.

And, drumroll please, I also just launch my first vegan shoe line in collaboration with Tastemaker! I’m very particular about what I promote, let alone who I partner with, so I can tell you that this is a line that I completely stand behind. 100% of proceeds go to my LGBTQ fundraiser or as scholarship funds for underprivileged dancers. (If you’re curious, you can check out the shoe collaboration, here)

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?

To be honest, I have been very lucky in this department, especially given how ‘public’ social media can feel like and how it is a big part of my life. Thankfully, nothing but good, supportive things have happened to me in public. But, I do see how terrible trolling can be and wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?

Anytime there is a negative feeling bubbling up, I try to just stick to sharing what I love, and draw attention to who I truly am. I focus my energy there, rather than sitting in that negativity. Other than that, I work hard to not pay that much attention to what’s being said or not said. That kind of stuff can eat at you, and ultimately consume you.

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

No. I think it’s too easy to post a harsh comment on social media. It takes that much more maturity and conscience to message people privately if you see something that you don’t agree with and feel the need to raise your voice.

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 learned something very profound from Brene Brown -she’s a best-selling New York Times author, five times around, and has spent her career studying courage, vulnerability and empathy. She said that unless your critics are in the arena getting their asses kicked as well, you shouldn’t care about them.

That quote, that I think about often is, “If you are not in the arena getting your arse kicked then I am not interested in your feedback.” Typically your worst critics are not in the arena, otherwise they wouldn’t have time to criticize you. Be mindful to what you give attention to.

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

Hm, great question. To come at it a different way, I think that when you have a spiritual path that grounds, that negativity that is happening on the outside world won’t get to you as much. Whether it’s an online or real life attack, you learn only to pay attention to the things that are in alignment with what moves you forward.

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

I will leave this answer to the professionals but I would imagine if they don’t have solid mindfulness practice, it could have a lasting unhealthy psychological and emotional effects.

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?

Social media is full of people who seem to have an unlimited amount of free time. They just have nothing else better to do. To be fair, there are a lot of social media influencers who through content help create unrealistic expectations of what a perfect life and body should look like and it’s completely disconnected with reality, and that can make people feel badly about their own selves, and then take it out on others. I’ll be the first person to recognize that. I do think there is a lot of noise in social media that doesn’t really help or contribute to making the world a better place. It has forced me to look at my own content and ask myself, does this post educate, inspire or empower people? If the answer is no, then there’s really no need to share it other than to stroke your own ego.

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. Think twice before you pour your negative energy somewhere.
  2. Ask yourself, is my feedback being asked or needed?
  3. Ask yourself, is my feedback coming from a place of love or fear?
  4. When something irritates you, focus on the why it’s irritating you instead of on the thing that irritates. More often it has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with yourself.
  5. If you must share your opinion, be classy and do it privately.

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 think there has to a be a mindfulness and spiritual element brought into this conversation. It is not strictly about is she/he entitled to express one’s opinions, the more important question to me is ‘where is the opinion coming from’? A place of love or fear?

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

I may sound like a broken record here, but I truly believe this — I would hide posts that do not inspire, help or empower others.

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

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. — Theodore Roosevelt

I have this quote pinned to my bulletin board to remind me to show up in the arena every day and to constantly ask myself how I can serve and empower others.

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 🙂

Ellen DeGeneres, Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/artsyagnes

Facebook: http://www.twitter.com/artsyagnes

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artsyagnes

Website: http://www.artsyagnes.com

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

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