During a time of controversy and tension, social media platforms divide people as opposed to bringing them together. Instagram has jumped at the opportunity to reverse this phenomenon by introducing a Kindness theme for their popular InstaMeets in conjunction with companies such as Refinery29 and LAND.
Kristen Joy Watts, a member of Instagram’s Community team, has spearheaded the planning around WorldWide InstaMeets.
“InstaMeets were developed organically by the community since the beginning of Instagram,” Watts said. “Now, once or twice a year, we announce that a worldwide InstaMeet is happening and the last couple have had themes, such as this year’s Kindness theme.”
Last Saturday, Refinery29 planned their own InstaMeet, which included their own spin on the theme, #ReclaimYourDomain. The event focused on halting online harassment.
Refinery29’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation Neha Gandhi explained why Refinery29 chose this topic as their theme.
“65 percent of people on the Internet feel that they have been harassed in some way,” Gandhi said. “But, we wanted to address that and help create a safer space on the internet where people don’t feel like they’re going to be harassed.”
Refinery29’s event emphasized accepting people for who they are and respecting their beliefs instead of tearing them down online. The aim is to create stronger online communities and hopefully lessen divisions that have been created by so many social issues and resonate with much of the NYU community, given that university students are at an age where they are trying to find their places in the world both socially and politically.
The event was held at Refinery29’s headquarters. The office space was decorated in pink with hearts everywhere to represent the themes of kindness and loving oneself and others. It was a relaxed environment designed to encourage guests to mingle and take photos to post on their Instagram.
There were three separate stations, and each allowed attendees to take photos and share the themes in creative ways. The #ReclaimYourDomain Telethon table was decorated with four pink telephones, which that encouraged users to go Insta Live and “flood Instagram with positivity”.
On Friday, LAND art galleries held a similar event. LAND is a gallery in Brooklyn owned by The League Education & Treatment Center for artists with intellectual disabilities. The gallery celebrated kindness by giving away lemonade and small drawings. LAND also played Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and created a nurturing and welcoming environment for everyone involved.
LAND Coordinator Sophia Cosmadopoulos said that LAND held the event to celebrate artists with disabilities and their works.
“We [LAND] planned this InstaMeet to encourage the public to interact with the artists and the work that they do,” Cosmadopoulos said. “Our focus is to broaden audiences in support of our artists and to participate in the theme of kindness towards those with intellectual disabilities.”
These events are similar to the many dialogues, lectures and diversity events NYU has hosted. Whether it is a student using social media fighting to turn NYU into a sanctuary campus or to create a safer academic environment, InstaMeets allow people to participate in similar campaigns off campus. With social media’s prevalence, these gatherings are the perfect and modern way to spread positivity.
For those unable to attend InstaMeets, there is still a way to get involved. Many users have taken part in the Kindness campaign from home by posting photos captioned with hashtags of three praise hands emojis.
Email Dyanna Fleites-Cruz at [email protected]