SXSW: Aija Mayrock and Lizzie Velasquez Talk How to End Bullying

Aija Mayrock and Lizzie Velasquez talk about revealing more of themselves to the public, the current state of cyberbullying and how it feels to be an icon (though they don't recognize themselves as such).
By Alex Firer
  • Last year, What’s Trending had the honor of interviewing Lizzie Velasquez at SXSW, and this year we had the chance to follow up with Lizzie — antibullying activist, author, and inspiration. Lizzie’s latest book — Dare to be Kind, is available now. Shira sat down with Lizzie and writer, actor and activist Aija Mayrock to discuss their work to put a stop to bullying.

    Shira Lazar, the host, asks Lizzie about her latest book, which Lizzie says feels like her true first book, as it’s more honest and, to quote her: “more of me coming into my own and really talking about things that I’ve never talked about before.” Shira asks what the current state of bullying is and Aija responds that she thinks things have gotten worse. She says: “I feel like bullying has gotten worse as social media has developed because every week I go around the country and speak to… young people… about cyberbullying… and we live in this culture of cruelty where with every new social media there are new ways to target people, anonymously or not.” Lizzie agrees with this and is stunned that bullying is coming, “in so many new and different ways.”

    As for what social media is doing to fight abuse? It’s not enough! Sometimes reports of bullying are not heard, therefore making teens who are being bullied feel as if they’re not being heard. Aija discusses how new AI programs are being developed in order to explore these issues, which could have a very positive change in these situations.

    As for those on social media, Lizzie mentions: “Even if you’re not an influencer, if you’re on social media you have a responsibility to be careful with your words, because there is a human on the other side when you hit send, and it’s really really important to remind people of that.” A lot to think about, and a lot more to explore in the video above. Watch it and learn about the incredible things you can do to stop cyberbullying — and of course, watch Aija’s incredible spoken word about bullying.

    What do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.