Treat others the way you want to be treated: if you want comments, leave a comment! If you want community, help others build theirs. Like pictures because they’re beautiful not because you have certain feelings about that person. When you give you receive and when you are in a cycle of giving and receiving and we all take that attitude, it becomes something that helps us feel powerful instead of something that takes our power away.
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 Alyssa Hoffman. Alyssa Hoffman is CEO of Fearlyss Entertainment and manager of rock and roll band Wayland.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/86cef02d47b94a788133eb868ffecb5b
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?
I am the oldest of six children of an Irish father and Italian mother who grew up on the Jersey Shore. When I moved in my sophomore year of high school, my credits didn’t transfer when I moved to South Carolina and I ended up at the trade school learning cosmetology. I ended up working as an Education Specialist for Great Clips on the way to travel up the corporate ladder when I quit my job, sold my possessions, and moved onto a rock and roll tour bus to manage Wayland.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of the most interesting things that happened to me since starting my career was living completely out of a tour bus for two years. I showered at venues and truck stops, ate venue and bar food every night, and would start my day at radio at 7am and end it after VIP at 2am. I learned more about myself and life in that two years than I ever could in an office.
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?
One of the funniest mistakes I ever made was thinking that I knew what I was doing. You think you know exactly what to do and everything is going to work out when you’re going into business for yourself and you expect it to go exactly as planned. Being an entrepreneur you realize nothing goes as planned and the resilience that you end up cultivating from that is more beneficial than any other training.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now with Covid still being a very real reality for the music business and touring still being on hold, we have gotten creative with what we’re offering to our fans. Our most recent project is the launch of WaylandTV, a seven day a week streaming series on YouTube that offers fans our version of MTV. We replaced the M with a W, and replaced storylines with reality as you can watch every part of our journey from writing and recording to what goes on behind the scenes. Connecting with people in this way and sharing our victories as well as our vulnerabilities is the best thing we can do, especially during this time. Our fans have gotten to see things manifest like our most recent partnership with Operation Underground Railroad and Forever Found, as well as the Art Of Elysium performances. To see your favorite rock band sing the hokey pokey to special needs children is really humbling.
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?
When we launched WaylandTV I actually had a fan write a DM to the band saying that my voice was so annoying they couldn’t watch it. They said that I sounded like I was from New York and that meant that I was only out for myself like most people from that state and if I had something to say I should write it down on a piece of paper and hold it up to the camera.
What did you do to shake off that negative feeling?
Feelings are energy, and I am a huge believer in energy and working with it. I knew I had to get out of my head and into my body. I studied spirituality & embodiment practices for many years, and it’s funny, because they teach you to move emotions through breathwork, movement, and sound, and as a music manager, it didn’t take me long to realize that’s what music is and does. I allowed myself to feel the feeling and I allowed myself to move it and let it go through the perfect “playlysst.”
Have you ever posted a comment on social media that you regretted because you felt it was too harsh or mean?
I don’t post mean comments ever. I don’t like anything that’s mean and the internet is forever. If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all should be a disclaimer before you post any comment.
Can you describe the evolution of your decisions? Why did you initially write the comment, and why did you eventually regret it?
I’ve never posted a comment that was mean that I regret, but I have regretted sending some questionable DM’s to previous friends or partners. It was so easy to just type whatever I was feeling and project everything onto them without taking responsibility for my own emotional regulation.
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 criticized online causes a reader to feel completely judged and shamed, publicly. This isn’t a private argument or something that can be worked out, and comments aren’t always seen immediately. This is a public bashing or shaming. Shame is a horrific feeling that makes you feel worthless and that place is so hard to come out of, especially alone when you’re reading it.
Do you think a verbal online attacks feels worse or less than a verbal argument in “real life”? are the two different?
When it comes to comments on social media, they’re in writing. When they’re on the screen in front of you, you are reading physical, manifested words, in a lot of cases over and over and over again. The screen doesn’t make the critique any less real or powerful. In many ways it makes it worst because you have the ability to keep reading it over and over again. A verbal agreement in “real life” offers you the ability to walk away, or use your body language, or even use your hand to touch the person lovingly and remind them you don’t have to argue about this. Online there are no boundaries, and that’s a scary place to be.
What long term effects can happen to someone who was shamed online?
We have witnessed online shaming result in suicide. We have witnessed people stop their careers or stop sharing their passions for fear of being shamed or cancelled. There are real, long term, mental health effects that scar and in some cases, kill.
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 neutral. I don’t believe it brings out the best or worst in people, nor do I blame it. I believe social media- just like anything- is neutral, and what we do with it is a direct result of what’s going on inside. Inside our homes, inside our head- what’s happening there is being manifested out; “as within so without.” Social media offers us a platform to express ourselves, and I see that people have an easier time expressing themselves behind a screen because it feels safe. They don’t really “know” those millions of people so the consequences seem less real. There isn’t the factor of accountability that you have in real life because you don’t know to whom or what you’re being accountable for. It’s a sense of anonymity. You don’t have to worry about making eye contact or waiting for the other person to respond. You are allowed to just express whatever it is you want without boundaries. Because the other person isn’t responding immediately, you’re not receiving any form of immediate feedback, therefore not realizing the consequences of your actions. Online also is to some extent the great equalizer. We all can say anything at any time. This isn’t how it works in real life and some people take advantage of that opportunity. Everything we express is always a direct reflection of what we’re experiencing for ourselves inside. It’s all projection.
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?
5 Things we should each do to help make the internet and social media a kinder and more tolerant place are:
- Treat others the way you want to be treated: if you want comments, leave a comment! If you want community, help others build theirs. Like pictures because they’re beautiful not because you have certain feelings about that person. When you give you receive and when you are in a cycle of giving and receiving and we all take that attitude, it becomes something that helps us feel powerful instead of something that takes our power away.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all: kindergarten really did prepare us for life, if only we paid attention. If what you’re saying isn’t going to help, motivate, inspire, or share with that person, ask yourself what is the point? If what you’re going to say will hurt, harm, or cause pain to that person, ask yourself why would you create pain?
- Don’t believe everything you read: Don’t believe anything you read about yourself or about others. Do your research and flex your muscle of discernment. If something is unkind, intolerant, or rude, chances are it’s wrong. What do you do with “wrong” material? Don’t share it, don’t engage with it, and take its power away: your energy and focus.
- When you see someone engaging negatively, do what you can to help: If you see someone is being harassed or spoken to rudely online, ask what you can do to help. Reach out privately, check to see if they’re okay, just like you would in real life. Extending a hand and connecting can mean so much in moments that hurt so deep.
- Before you post anything, ask yourself, “is this representative of who I really am?”: Is what your posting in integrity with who you really are? Would you be happy if your grandmother, employer, partner, childhood teacher saw this? No one is really “nasty,” but you might be angry. No one is really “hurtful” but you may feel hurt and therefore projecting that on others. Check your integrity.
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 do believe in freedom, and I do believe that we have abused and manipulated certain freedoms to fit our narrative. I believe with freedom comes great response-ability, and if we are using our responses to hurt, manipulate, and cause pain, the issue becomes deeper than social media and we need to look at social change.
If you had full control over Facebook or Twitter, which specific changes would you make to limit harmful or hurtful attacks?
If I were in the position to be on Facebook or Twitter, I would make sure that the community guidelines were clearly outlined, frequently updated, and when violations were in place they didn’t just come with a “delete” button. I would have a team that would reach out to that person and make sure they were safe, healthy, and if they needed someone to talk to, they’d be directed to the proper places. So often we miss opportunities for serious cries for help because we listen to “punish” instead to understand.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is “Shake Your Ass And Save Your Soul.” My grandmother was the queen of catchphrases and this one is close to my heart. It is a constant reminder that embodying love and kindness is really all we’re ever expected to do in any moment.
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 🙂
Stephanie McMahon is my ultimate private lunch date. Stephanie is not only my hero in business for the past two decades, but is an exemplary human being, wife, mother, and CBO. It would make all of my dreams come true to be in her presence and share a meal.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!
Thank you for having me.