Coil: You've Protected My Mental Health
I'd like to first and foremost give a hearty thanks for everything that your team has done for us creators. From weekly encouragement and new resources to the boost program and really, just giving us a place where we feel valued. Thank you.
Now what I'm about to say, you may or may not even realize you've done. How things are right now, leaving things the way they are, may be short term and I won't be mad about that, but I do feel like you should know the impact you're making with your current set up.
My mental health has been in a rough spot for many years. A constant need for approval and validation, stemming from an overdose of social media platforms, has left me feeling less than, unimportant and like a complete failure. I keep going back to Instagram and Facebook, specifically, looking for approval from strangers on the internet who somehow hold the power to tell me if I'm good enough. There have been hours upon hours spent scrolling, comparing, beating myself up and wondering how I could ever be “as pretty”, “as talented” or “as popular” as other people on these platforms.
Until you. You came along and showed me that I could show up and create and I could just be. I could be authentically myself in every sense and not worry that my looks, writing style or anything else would cause me to go unseen or unpaid. I didn't have to advertise three types of protein powder or skincare products every week, just to get paid a few bucks. I didn't have to change my content and act like someone I'm not for approval or to get paid.
Now this is the part that may surprise you:
You have not only made me feel physically safe on this platform, but you've allowed me to feel mentally safe.
Unlike popular opinion, I actually LOVE that you don't have comments, DM's or an ability to see who likes or follows me.
» It keeps me sane. I'm not constantly checking for comments or to see who's following and liking my stuff. I can post, do my own reading and engaging and hop off the platform without a second thought. I'm able to actually enjoy my day without obsessively checking my stats.
» It keeps me from getting addicted to the platform and it allows me to connect with people outside of the platform. When you have DM's and comments built in, you get to a point where you spend so much time on the platform that you start to ignore other responsibilities. With the whole DM's/Comments thing- rather than manipulating/guilting people into commenting on your post, right then, just for engagement, you actually get to start meaningful conversations and the people who really want to talk actually will. When people have to go to Twitter, email or live chats to talk to other people in the community, it forces them out of their shell and into the world. Not only does that boost exposure for Coil but it gives people the opportunity to see the community that is being built within the new creator sphere. It shows that we are personable, we care about the work going on digitally and that we are supportive and inclusive- which is exactly what our society is craving. As an added bonus, it helps you gauge who is actually connecting with your content and it forces them to take action. If we want to make content that moves people, this is a great way to gauge that!
» The fact that we can't see who's upvoting/following allows me to not compare, feel slighted, or constantly agonize over why someone didn't like something of mine. It takes the personal politics out of it and leaves it to: either they liked the content or they didn't. That also helps with preventing pods from getting out of control.
» Not being able to comment or DM on the platform also builds in a safety mechanism to prevent human trafficking and cyber bulling on the platform. Now for those of you who didn't grow up in the age of the internet, you may have not experienced this, so let me tell you about it. I have not been on a single social media platform where I've not had nasty comments and DM's from strangers telling me to “go kill myself” or that I'm “f***ing ugly” or worse. I've not been on a single platform where I haven't been preyed on by predators. I've had people try to catfish me when I was a teenager, I've had people try to find me in real life, I've had a stalker myself, physically, in my town. So please, when I say that you need to be careful with adding features like comments and DM's to Coil, please hear my cry. I feel safe on Coil because I know that I am not going to fall prey to evil people who want a target. I also feel safe encouraging my friends to create on Coil and even their teenagers. I feel safe doing this because they are able to come here to create without worrying that their 13 year old daughter is going to be talked to by a man on the internet that has intentions to harm her. Whether you are aware of human trafficking or not, it's a VERY real and horrifying pressing issue not just in America, but around the world. At this point it is estimated that if your child under the age of 18 has a social media account – SnapChat, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube- that they have been viewed by a child trafficker or predator and reached out to at least once. I can't even count the amount of times that I was preyed on online. Did I ever tell my parents? No. Were there some close calls? Absolutely. So if you have a child and you are begging for DM's and comments on Coil, maybe think again about what it means to have a platform that actually has the capability to keep you and your kids safer than they would be on other platforms? You can't expect your child to tell you when they're being reached out to- if they even know. Most traffickers and predators come in the form of teenage girls and women at this point, nobody is safe and nobody is untouchable. With that being said, I'm thankful to have this place right now. I'm thankful to be able to share about my life without the worry that someone is going to target me or my family directly through the platform. Just knowing that has eased my anxiety about creating and connecting online significantly.
So thank you Coil, for everything you've done. You may not know it, but you've significantly helped my mental health over the past 8 months. Because of you I've been able to separate myself from a social media addiction, I've found an online family and I've found my voice again in an environment I trust.
Whatever you may add in the coming months, whether it be stats, username tracking, comments, DM's; I hope you take into consideration how it will effect the health of the community. You've already made massive strides in being different compared to other platforms and that's why we love you. I know I'm not alone in everything I've said today, I've had this conversation with several other creators and I'll be diving into it a bit on The Merge Podcast tomorrow with Adam – aka: @aussieninja.