What defeats cyberbullying: Viral kindness

By Anne Collier

This is how it’s done in social media. Viral kindness. If social cruelty can get piled on in social media, so can compassion. Just watch “We Are All Daniel Cui,” which shows how more than 100 students at Hillsborough High School in northern California defeated cyberbullying by swamping it with support for soccer goalie Daniel Cui, after somebody in his school created a “Worst Goalie Ever” page. The varsity team was having a losing season and Daniel, a freshman, had missed a save that apparently would’ve led to the only win of the season. So one big-hearted upperclassman on the team took the lead on turning the whole situation around. Not named in the film but helping to narrate it, the student, Jeff Grimes, said in the video, “We decided we had to do something.” He and some other teammates found a photo of a great save Daniel had made and made it their Facebook profile photo. That’s what went viral.

The video, by Facebook’s filmmaker Peter Jordan, tells the rest of the story much better than I can, so do check it out. But I love the conclusion that became the title. It models the acceptance that happens through acknowledging that we all have stories with the same elements as Daniel’s. Everybody messes up at times and nobody needs mess-ups turned into public humiliation. Not everybody has support like Jeff’s, which is what needs to go viral. But I think this video also shows how that can change. With examples like this, shared widely through spreadable media (a term coined by Prof. Henry Jenkins) and paired with the power of social norms development (now slowly flowing into humanity’s new frontier called social media), more and more of us will have – and maybe even be – supporters like Jeff.

A bit of background

Launched this past August, Facebook Stories is where, put very simply, the service presents “extraordinary stories about people using Facebook,” where more than a billion people in every country on the planet are sharing with each other their thoughts, interests, and experiences, often as they happen or multiple times a day. Facebook tells me they’ll be posting a new video story every month representing a theme. August’s was “Remembering,” about a man in New Delhi who lost his memory and got it back again with the help of friends he reached out to through the site. Users can submit their own stories, too, in any medium they choose – text, photo, video – or with mixed-media. Facebook will be working in all media as well. Here’s coverage from ABC News.

Oh, and Daniel is now in 11th grade and still playing soccer, reportedly even more accomplished than the amazing save in the video indicates. Jeff’s now a sophomore in college.

Coming up, Part 2: Other powerful fixes for meanness and cruelty in social media

Related links

* Facebook this week launched its Bullying Prevention Page, featuring the Daniel Cui video. Below it is some great background on Social Reporting in a video called “Resolving Conflicts”
* About the Born This Way Foundation, which launched this year with the premise of fostering “a kinder, braver world”
* “Young change agents leveraging social media”

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