Catching up with Zoe Sugg on Stop Cyberbullying Day

What is your favorite social media platform and why?

My favorite social media platform is Instagram because there’s a real sense of community, I find it very inspiring and as a creative person I love the visual aspect of it.

Do you think social media is a blessing or a curse?

I think it’s both a blessing and a curse. I think it has enabled a lot of conversation and has given people a platform who may not have had one before, allowed communities and friendships to form and important issues to be elevated. However, there is also a very dangerous side to social media. It’s become a very different place than where it was ten years ago. There are millions more users and not a lot of rules so it can feel like a bit of a playground. It’s easy to be faceless and anonymous which can unfortunately bring out the worst in people.

Have you ever been personally targeted with cyberbullying or online abuse?

Yes, and I unfortunately think it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t.

How did that make you feel / how did you deal with it?

In a position like mine, you unfortunately have to learn to live with it but I don’t think it gets any easier. Some days it goes in and cuts deep and other days I let it wash over me. Either way I try my best to not let it affect my day and put my energy and focus into the things and people who are important to me.

Are there any particular issues that you are aware of that you would like to see addressed or highlighted?

The obvious issues like harmful content and illegal behaviors should be a priority, for example child pornography or content that promotes eating disorders and self-harm, but I’d also love to see social media platforms take more responsibility for users who exude abusive behavior.

What advice would you give to someone being cyberbullied or abused online?

Tell somebody, report the account, try your best not to engage and try and remember that it’s a reflection on the person putting out that hateful content, not you.

What do you think can or should be done to reduce the amount of abuse online?

Consequences for people putting out abuse and more education surrounding how to behave appropriately online. The online space should be a reflection of the real world and so reminding people they should act online as they would around other real people. Less anonymity would help this too.

What would your message be to someone who thinks cyberbullying is just a joke?

Is real life bullying just a joke too? Because it’s the same thing. People have taken their lives due to online hate and the effect it’s had on their mental health, so it doesn’t get more serious than that.

What words of advice would you give to anybody anxious about following their dreams due to negativity online or fear of ridicule?

You can’t live your life based on someone else’s opinions. These people don’t care about you, and you don’t want to regret things or miss out because of them. Put all of your focus into you and how you want to succeed.

What does the rest of this year and next year hold for Zoella? Is there anything exciting that we should be aware of?

Lots of things! We’re always working on lots of exciting creative projects. Stay tuned for a website relaunch, some really exciting app updates and some fun collaborations to come.

In 10 words or less, why is kindness so important?

Because it costs nothing and means the world.