Although social media gives the world access and community like never before, it has also given rise to cyber bullying, low self-esteem, and other mental health obstacles. This is why Toby Daniels, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social Media Week, created The 404, a community of industry leaders who are coming together to tackle issues that have risen due to social media. Earlier this month, Social Media Week and The 404 invited Julius to attend Empathy Week - a series of workshops for NYC teens, influencers, and industry leaders to discuss the importance of empathy.
At the event, attendees learned about a study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Findings indicated that empathy is declining, and teens are the most impacted by social media communities and messaging. Thus, Daniels brought in Katie Hurley, a licensed social worker and speaker who focuses on engaging teens, to lead the workshop.
Hurley aptly defined what empathy is and contextualized for the teens the importance of being proactive with those who might be struggling with mental health. She said, “It’s OK to not be OK. Listening and saying ‘that sounds hard’ is what people need more than anything.” Teens today are facing new challenges on social media unlike any other generation–the effect of social media on mental health is more immediate and pervasive than ever before. This is similar to what was heard from Dr. Ayelet Boussi and Lina Renzina on the Julius Profiles podcast.If you would like to learn more about social media & influencer marketing’s impact on mental health, listen to the episode here.
Also in attendance was influencer Cameron Rodgers of Freckled Foodie. She shared stories about how important it is to be yourself, both online and offline. She established a connection with the teens, especially when discussing online trolls and negative comments. Rogers said, “Other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter to how you think of yourself. Take time to understand that there is another person on the other end of the social dialogue.” Influencers must maintain a high level of empathy as they put themselves out to their vast followers, and look to build positivity wherever they can.
The event concluded with student and adult attendees workshopping ideas about how they can increase empathy at their schools and offices, respectively. While many ideas were shared, the common thread between them is that empathy needs a greater vehicle to surface–both at schools and in the office. Being able to connect 1:1 and building honest dialogue with multiple touch-points is paramount.
This is why Julius is also taking action. In lieu of giving out holiday gifts this year to customers, the company is donating the funds to The Jed Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to suicide prevention and mental health support for teens and young adults. “We know that social media can profoundly connect people in the most amazing ways, but we also know that there are many ways to improve,” said Danny Palestine, Head of Product Marketing at Julius. “Empathy starts with communication and that’s why, on behalf of our customers, we are proud to donate to The Jed Foundation.”
If you would like to find out more about The Jed Foundation, or make a donation this holiday season, please visit their website: www.jedfoundation.org