A Parade of Kindness in Pink Shirts

 In Online Safety

Bullying is a huge issue for kids around the world. All around the globe, you’ll read stories like this one or this one or this one, all of which are stories of children or teens who have been bullied to the point of feeling so helpless they’ve committed suicide. When we say “huge issue”, it’s not an understatement.

Pink Shirt Day is an annual event in Canada, inspired by a group of kids who were sticking up for a friend who was being harassed because of their pink shirt. Over time, pink shirts became a cross-Canada symbol for a movement, with charities, businesses, and news media outlets showing their support for initiatives that take a stand against bullying every February. We hope this movement can spread further, into other countries around the world.

Bullying is an issue that’s close to our hearts at Community Sift. Every member of the team has been bullied at some point in their lives, as a child, a teen, or even as an adult. Now we are working together as a team to create software to sift out bullies and encourage positive online behavior instead.

Today we hosted a little experiment, by surprising a few businesses with some “drive-by positivity”. We all put on our pink shirts and grabbed stacks of pink Post-It notes to blitz each office with kind and positive messages, ‘flash mob’ style. It would have been easier to just buy some pink shirts and sit in the office working away, but we wanted to encourage others to join in the cause. We also wanted to see if we could make kindness spread like a positive virus. As it turns out, we could!

While we faced a few hiccups (one conference call and one team in the middle of a hotfix), most of the businesses were kind enough to let us invade their space with positivity. We kept it short and sweet, leaving as many pink Post-It notes with positive messages as we could at each office.

Several of the offices were also taking part in Pink Shirt Day, and they stopped to take photos with us. One local business (Hyper Hippo Games) even handed out prizes to the team members with the best Pink Shirt Day outfits.

We were greeted by honking horns and big smiles from most of the people we walked past on the street, as we were making a scene with our pink balloons, shirts, and happy Post-It notes.

After our little parade was over, we continued receiving posts and messages and photos from all the various people we interacted with throughout the afternoon. Then a funny thing happened – the team kept the positivity going, even without any sort of prompt! We started up a #kudos channel in our internal Slack, with people saying positive and kind things about each other, thanking others for being awesome. Our little Pink Shirt Day parade was a team event that wouldn’t have been as good without everyone’s participation.

We love the dreams of social apps like Brighten, who are on a mission to spread positive messages, or Facebook’s new “Reactions” button, which gives more expressivity to an otherwise somewhat lifeless “like” button. Rewarding users for spreading kindness is a great way to move away from bullying behavior towards more positive ones. To quote Lady Gaga, “Tolerance and acceptance and love is something that feeds every community.”

Happy Pink Shirt Day to all of our friends around the world. We’re happy to be helping so many great businesses to sift out bullies from their online communities.

As our team member Mila would say, “Let’s start with smile!”

 

Originally published on Medium

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