Event host and proud trans woman Eva Echo (she/they) an activist, writer, and public speaker with a focus on transgender rights, opened this event by expressing the importance of the topic. Speaking about her school years when she was bullied for being different, she discussed how especially now with the influence of social media, there is a need to push for change.
Eva Echo opened the discussion with guests Max Slack and Dame Inga Beale. Slack (he/they) a trans content creator, speaker and activist discussed his experiences on social media, stating the anonymity, lack of accountability and legal protection puts people in a difficult and unsafe situation.
Dame Inga Beale, (she/her) an experienced business leader and ex-CEO of Lloyd’s of London, highlighted that these topics are vitally important within the current social landscape. This is the reason we have Dive In, we need to debate these important topics and encourage difficult conversations. Beale spoke about how the current situation on social media can cause a ‘mob-like’ behaviour to quickly develop in seconds. The element of anonymity alongside this mob-like behaviour can be a dangerous combination – people feel they can share anything without any consequences.
Beale went onto share her most personal stories, including how she was treated as a female CEO in a male-dominated industry, and how she received death threats and personal attacks for wanting to be open about her sexuality and change things in the industry.
Slack shared his experiences across a range of social media channels, expressing his concerns about each, particularly TikTok, on which he says he receives torrents of abuse and hatred each time he posts content. Due to this, he decided to take a break from TikTok in order to protect his mental health.
The conversation then naturally turned to how we can tackle online abuse and turn this into positive action. The panel suggested education is key. Kids in school aren’t being taught enough about the dangers of the internet or the effects that social media abuse can have. It’s also vital that the legal system changes with the times, to provide support to people who are receiving social media abuse. There should be improved support on the platforms to better police and put safeguards in place.
Echo asked the panel to give advice for someone going through online abuse at the moment. Beale suggested the key is to share and speak about the abuse you face. This is what she did and through this process grew stronger and more resilient. Slack suggested it’s important to open up, ask for help and take a break if you need to. The priority is always to be kind to yourself.
Echo closed the session by highlighting the importance of talking about this topic. Hatred doesn’t care about gender identity, sexuality, race, or anything else. We are all at risk but we will stand united against hate. Hate will never win.