By Sonaksha Iyengar:
Once, I illustrated and posted an affirmation on my profile as a part of my ‘Garden of Kindness‘ series. I immediately received a response from someone on the post saying she really needed to hear that affirmation because she had just lost a parent. The fact that she told me an illustrated affirmation could give her strength, turned my day around, giving me hope in the power of kindness – even a kind comment. Her comment came at a time when I was exhausted, burnt out and having a debilitating migraine, adding a strand of hope to an otherwise gloomy day.
We spend so many hours every day scrolling through Instagram: whether it is checking out other people’s profiles, seeing if anyone has commented on our photographs or exploring new hashtags, there’s always something new to see and experience on the platform. But amidst all the novel hues and exciting visuals, it can be taxing to stumble upon a mean comment or two that could inject your day with a streak of negativity. Scottish author Ian Maclaren once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Taking this thought forward, Instagram’s #KindComments is a thoughtful way to encourage kindness in a world that can already be so harsh.
As a symbol of its commitment to supporting, encouraging and celebrating safe spaces for the online community in India, Instagram collaborated with artists Do x Khatra at St+art Mumbai 2017 and unveiled the #KindComments wall on Saturday, November 11. Dipped in vivid hues and characterized by a graffiti style, the mural is a burst of symbols and colours that hope to send positive messages to passersby. Central to the anamorphic mural are two hands joining to create a heart, universally acknowledged as a gesture of love, positivity and happiness. The mural is also scattered with other elements including frequently used emojis, typographic renditions of various words and imaginative 3D characters.
With more than 800 million people using the platform everyday, Instagram’s commitment to ensuring that it is united by kindness is increasingly evident, given their attempts to engage with the community with events like the 16th Worldwide InstaMeet and #TodayIMet, an Instagram project that helped a group of Indian teens build empathy for each other through a shared photography experience.
Over the years, Instagram has transformed into a space where many of us document the most intimate part of our lives– whether it is using it like a visual journal and talking about our days, or sharing our creative work and process, even as the fear of not being good enough nudges us. Instagram has become a space to be, to exist, just as we are and in these moments of vulnerability, it feels incredibly encouraging to see that the platform cares about our experience, as much as we do about it.
A mural like this however, is not merely another step in a campaign. It is reflective of the larger purpose of a brand like Instagram that has the power to wield the necessity of kindness and positivity online. In a time when online negativity seems so prevalent, the only way to combat that is with the strength of united kindness. You too can take part in #KindComments. Share an Instagram post of something you value, something that brings a smile to your heart and it is most likely to bring one to many others too. Leave comments on people’s posts sharing how their posts make you happy, adding a spark to their day, and possibly uplifting them. An initiative like this, in fact, will continue to act as a much needed reminder to anyone walking by. After all, #KindComments is more about sharing and finding meaning in kindness than anything else.