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A year on from Caroline Flack’s tragic death, #BeKind is trending again… but are we actually any kinder?

“In a world the place you will be something, be form.” These are the phrases that Caroline Flack wrote on Instagram weeks earlier than she took her personal life in 2020. When the news of the 40-year-old’s death was released, simply earlier than she was as a result of face trial for the alleged assault of her boyfriend, her phrases immediately went viral. #BeKind started trending, hundreds of her followers unfold the significance of her message, and dozens of fellow celebrities lent their faces to the motion.

Right this moment, a 12 months on from her tragic loss of life, #BeKind is trending once more. In a manner, it hasn’t actually stopped. Over the past 12 months, the #BeKind message has discovered its manner onto T-shirts, mental health web sites, the John Lewis Christmas advert, and hundreds of individuals’s social media feeds internationally.

The hashtag #BeKind was initially created again in 2017 by Lucy Alexander, a mom who misplaced her son to suicide and needed to boost consciousness in regards to the horrific affect of on-line trolling – one thing that Flack was additionally subjected to. Her loss of life final 12 months led to the hashtag’s revival, in addition to mass media protection of the #BeKind message.

However, has something actually modified since then? It’s undoubtedly heart-warming to see so many individuals speaking in regards to the significance of kindness, significantly when the hashtag has additionally been used for the very sensible function of elevating cash for psychological well being charities, however a 12 months on, are we any kinder?

‘The message appears to be forgotten,’ writes one Twitter person, in a sentiment that’s being expressed repeatedly on social media as we speak. ‘[Flack’s] loss of life began the #bekind development,’ says one other. ‘Did it final? No, it didn’t. Newspapers nonetheless suppose it is okay to tear down sturdy girls.’ Many are referencing examples of tabloids mocking Meghan Markle’s pregnancy announcement, even in mild of the very fact she just lately spoke out in regards to the agony of struggling a miscarriage. ‘A 12 months since #CarolineFlack and but our media nonetheless proceed to do that,’ writes one girl. ‘The #BeKind motion didn’t final lengthy.’

It’s plain that ladies within the public eye, from Flack within the months earlier than her loss of life to Markle at each stage since her engagement to Prince Harry, are subjected to behavior that may solely be described as unkind by each the media and on-line trolls. Flack’s loss of life is just not the one tragedy to boost consciousness to this – it occurred in 1997 with Princess Diana, Whitney Houston in 2012, and with Love Island’s Sophie Gradon suicide in 2018 – and sadly, little has actually modified.

However whereas the #BeKind message doesn’t appear to have modified the way in which the media treats sturdy girls on a mass foundation, it has reached tens of millions of people. On Instagram alone, it has been used over 9.9 million occasions. Professor Robin Banerjee, head of psychology and director of Kindness Analysis at Sussex College, recognises that making a ‘kindness tradition’ isn’t simple. However he believes that any marketing campaign selling kindness has loads of benefit, and #BeKind has definitely promoted kindness to tens of millions – one thing he feels the world is especially receptive to now.

“The give attention to kindness appears to be resonating with individuals greater than ever earlier than within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says, referencing the instance of the digital Kindfest competition that passed off on World Kindness Day on 13 November final 12 months, was opened by Captain Sir Tom Moore, and was attended by 6,000 individuals from 38 completely different international locations.

“Seeing hundreds of individuals logging in from all all over the world with a standard curiosity in kindness was actually inspiring. I believe it pertains to quickly rising proof of the sturdy connections between kindness and well-being (not just for the recipient of kindness, however for the giver too).”

The advantages of kindness are clear, and tragedies like Flack’s loss of life show simply how important and pressing it’s for our society to turn into kinder. Progress in some areas, like tabloids’ remedy of ladies, is unfortunately very gradual. However the truth that the #BeKind message has been going sturdy now for an entire 12 months now’s inspiring. It proves that tens of millions of individuals on the planet are prepared to start out being kinder, and judging by the large rise in volunteering and neighborhood efforts this 12 months within the pandemic, change is already in motion.

It won’t be as quick as we wish it, however as people, all we are able to do is clear up our aspect of the road and guarantee that we’re being as form as we wish to be. It’s actually that easy. We will’t management others or power mass change, however as Flack herself mentioned all these months in the past, in a world the place you will be something, why wouldn’t you select to be form?

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