- June 15, 2018
- Posted by: Scott Freeman
- Category: News
You’ve got a unique online presence. Tell us more about your work with your amazing animals!
Thanks! I’m a digital animal educator, so I teach people about animals through my videos. My most popular series is my ‘Creature Feature’, where I talk about one specific animal in depth per episode. I also share my life as keeper of many interesting rescued creatures, and talk about the truths and responsibilities of keeping creatures at home.
Have you ever experienced abuse online?
Oh, all the time! There are actual hate forums dedicated to picking faults or fights with everything I do, but hey, that’s the internet! People get extremely passionate about the care and treatment of animals – which is great, and which I appreciate, but when it becomes about my body, accent, ethnicity or derogatory about those close to me, that’s just abuse.
Is any of the abuse specifically targeted at the animals?
Not specifically, but there are many people who are disgusted of my fascination with animals that most people deem ‘creepy’, such as snails, spiders, toads, weasels, cockroaches and snakes. Some people feel the need to share (graphically) what they would do to my family of pets if they had the chance.
(And people think the animals I keep are dangerous!)
What do you think can or should be done to reduce the amount of cyberbullying and digital abuse?
Empower and educate people about the consequences of cyberbullying, and how to protect themselves from it. Let’s be honest here, many of the large social media platforms don’t take cyberbullying as seriously as they should, and they won’t because they’re dealing with other issues on their platforms which may be deemed more of a priority, or even illegal. Free online seminars or hangouts hosted by social media personalities who take it in turns to talk about how they deal with cyber abuse would be a great place to start!
What advice would you give to somebody being harassed or abused online?
Speak up and find a support tribe! You’re not alone, and you don’t have to swallow the hate or abuse that others throw at you. You matter, and there are people and groups like Cybersmile who want to help you.
And also, congratulations! If you’re receiving hate, it’s because your energy, idea, creations or existence have been deemed important enough by your haters to dedicate their lives to! In addition, if someone repeatedly returns to leave hate on your channel or blog, they’re actually contributing to your monthly paycheck.
Engagement = sale. So you can always chuckle to yourself about that!
What would you say to somebody that thinks cyberbullying or online abuse is a joke?
I’d tell them to take a good, long look in the mirror. If people are that bored or hurt that they have to belittle or degrade others from behind a screen, you’ve got your own problems to sort out, so talk to someone who can help you be a more productive and positive influence in the world. Happy people don’t hurt others, and everyone deserves to be happy.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
I love YouTube because I have such a strong, positive community of animals lovers there! I love that I can express myself creatively, share my animals and inspire others to seek a profession with animals that they love. And it’s great that this is my full time job! It’s a dream!
Do you think social media is a blessing or a curse?
It’s a bit of both. I don’t think there can be light without a shadow cast somewhere.
It depends on what you dedicate your time to online, and what you choose to engage with and allow into your mind. The internet is what you make of it.
Why do you think cyberbullying and abuse has become such a big online problem?
I think it’s because of the anonymity which is granted with the internet. Never before have people been SO connected to each other, whilst being so emotionally detached. You can be whoever you want on the internet, and people have a fascination with being destructive forces – especially when there are no consequences.
What advice would you have for somebody who wants to be a YouTuber and is worried about sharing their content in case of ridicule and abuse?
Just start! And yes, you are going to be upset when people challenge your ideas or simply hate you or your content, but I promise you that’s the minority of people who feel the need to voice their dislike. Most people who don’t like your videos just won’t comment, and you’ll be amazed how the good people will always outweigh the bad. 99% of people who subscribe and comment are your channel cheerleaders. My greatest advice – don’t engage with the hate. I treat hate like a Ouija Board – don’t invite the negativity in! Once you do, you become hyper-aware of it, and it becomes a dark cloud which lingers over you.
Instead, brush hats away like an annoying mosquito, and focus on those who deserve your attention and interaction. Give back to those who make your channel a wonderful place to be!
Do you have a favorite mantra or positive term that you use to motivate yourself?
‘Haters are my elevators.’
The bigger my channel grows, the louder the hate grows, but the more I realize that I’m making an impact and that drives my desire to create.
Hate used to hurt, but your skin toughens quickly as your channel grows and you end up more confident in real life!
These days when I read constructive criticism, I appreciate it, because people want me to be a good voice for animals. Constructive criticism is something I will always pay attention to and be grateful for, but with simple hate comments, I literally make slow motion, martial arts movements and laugh as I read the hate and block their word-bullets with my imaginary nunchucks. I’ve become bulletproof to their words, and haters are of little consequence to my life. I doubt I’ll ever be on my deathbed, wishing I’d pleased more haters or given them more of my time!
What are you up to for the rest of 2018? Anything that you’d like to share?
I have a lot of projects that I’m working on, but I’m not allowed to talk about those just yet!
I’ve just got engaged, so I have a wedding to plan, which is super exciting! And most of all I’m excited to do more to help others find the animal career of their dreams, and to keep being there for my Creature Crew community!