Scientists are working furiously these days on testing therapies and vaccines to treat the coronavirus, but it will take time and focused effort before they’re ready. In the meantime, we’re all wrestling with a lot of emotion. Fortunately, there is already a way to vaccinate ourselves against panic, anxiety, and selfishness. It’s called loving-kindness.
Sterling Chandler is a 16-year-old Photographer, Filmmaker & Music Creative from London. He has experienced social media from both ends of the scale, the highs and the lows. Today I talk with him about his story as well as the importance of being kind on social media during this time of uncertainty.
Sterling said “Social media is an amazing tool for artists and creators. I started off using Instagram to showcase my photography, now it has practically turned into my job. I love it! I feel that it is important to be kind in person and on social media everyday, with or without a pandemic.”
Q: What are your top tips to staying healthy and managing social media during this time?
“No doubt about it, social media is both a blessing and a curse during this time, everyone is going to be spending more time on their phones because this is one of the only ways to contact friends and family during isolation. However, it is important to balance time, especially as a young person.
1. Speak to friends, whether you are texting, video calling anything at all! This is a great way to connect and not feel isolated (even though we are in isolation).
2. Take a step back, go for a run, go out into the garden. Leave your phone. As important as it is to connect with people on social media, it is as important to step back and take a break.
3. You have time to do things you never normally would. Create content, build an audience & support others.
4. Reach out, not just to friends but everyone. Although social platforms are allowing us to communicate whilst being stuck at home, people need to talk more than ever.”
I also asked Sterling about his experiences on social media, and how it has impacted his career in both positive and negative ways.
Q: Obviously social media is a great tool but can also be a complicated place, what experiences have you had/how do you stay positive?
“I totally agree. I have had a lot of positives but also a lot of negatives from social media. It is a great platform to showcase your work and reach people who share the same interests as you, however it can be a very dark place. Over the last year I have been subjected to a lot of impersonation as well as nasty messages and attempted hacks. As you can imagine this is a lot for a 16 year old to deal with. I am very lucky to have a support system at home and have learned to take it on the chin, but for others this can be very damaging mentally but also to your business / social presence. Daily I receive messages from fans and friends alerting me of the latest fake account. The best way to deal with this is to take note, block and report. But most importantly talk about it to someone you trust. Hopefully social media companies can try to tackle this issue but it is hard. “
Q: How do you deal with setbacks?
“Before you reach your aim, you will always hit setbacks however big or small. It is perfectly natural to make mistakes along the way, from mistakes you learn to grow. It is important to pick yourself up and move on.”
Q: Have you been working on any projects since being in isolation? How are you coping?
“Not too bad! Even though it’s been quite a drastic change I’m just getting into it. It’s hard as I can’t do any photoshoots, but it doesn’t stop me from doing digital work. I’ve offered to help creative freelancers, local businesses and charities with getting their brand online for free. At the moment given the circumstances, it is very hard for an independent physical business to make ends meet, by seeing the difficulty I felt it was necessary to try and help in any way that I can. I have recently started working with Tonic, A mental health charity and I’m helping them market their fundraisers, create social content/ campaign and spread the support they offer across the internet. As well as Love Record Stores, a global campaign to support independent retailers during this time!”
You can pretty easily obtain the kindness vaccination today by noticing what it feels like to receive the kindness of others. And then you can get your booster shots by practicing loving-kindness throughout your days — by simply and silently wishing people well at the grocery store, when you walk or drive past them, or when you receive a package at the door. Short moments observed many times is how you make kindness your new habit.
Let’s all use this time to grow into our kindest selves.