You don’t grow a platform like mine without courting controversy and given I tackle a lot of topics mainstream media don’t or won’t, I’ve received my fair share of online abuse and trolling.
Some of my harshest critics over the last two years have been Māori, and because of some of them, at times I have been tempted to walk away from social media, and more specifically TikTok.
I have had quite the online journey with some moments proving to be more of a highlight than others. But what has remained consistent no matter how big or small my following is, is discovering the silent majority. And they definitely came through at a time that I needed them to.
For me, the ‘silent majority’ are people who follow me and like my comments. They agree with me but have a hard time expressing it openly. Sometimes it is due to fears of backlash and sometimes because people don’t know how to articulate what they want to say.
After Posie Parker visited NZ, I received a lot of backlash on TikTok for the things I was saying, so I made a post stating that I was ready to walk away.
But fate had other plans and some of us learned valuable lessons the day I posted that. The silent majority learned how to use their voices and I learned just how much the silent majority really does value the things I say and share with them. I was floored by the comments and messages asking and encouraging me to stay and keep sharing.
And I’m glad I did because I do appreciate my TikTok whānau. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate my Twitter whanau as well but there are noticeable differences in both platforms. While Twitter has the larger numbers and people are always quick to share information with me, my TikTok whānau have seen me through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and a higher percentage are my target audience of Māori who I’m trying to encourage off the Māori roll. Both platforms, however, do bring immense value in terms of what I’ve learned on them and been able to share with people.
Plain Sight have also played an instrumental part in my TikTok journey in recent times because sharing the pieces I’ve written and have had published by them has seen a steady increase in my TikTok whānau who are eager to learn more: nearly 900 more people joined my TikTok whānau since my collaboration with Plain Sight began. David and Dane. A rising boat lifts all ships, right? And I couldn’t have got this far without you. Thank you for your continued support of my mahi.
Almost daily there are comments to the effect that I inspire people or that they’re grateful for voices like mine. Comments like this certainly help keep this 14-year-old high school dropout humble, and while I may not be able to express my thanks to everyone individually, it’s important that people know, I do see them, even if time doesn’t allow me to respond to them all.
Over the last 2 years there have many moments where I have felt the wrath of online bullies but, this year especially, I am seeing the blood, sweat and literal tears I’ve experienced on this journey become worth the ride.
I decided 2023 was going to be a year of education and empowerment and through a series of serendipitous events I have been able to see those plans come to fruition.
I have seen the silent majority now start to become louder. I have had people step outside of their comfort zones and take part where they normally wouldn’t. I have had people tell me even if they disagree with me on some things, they still support my right to say what I do and will defend me against the hate. I’ve even had a person go from slamming me to admitting they learned something after going through my page for 20 minutes. Things like this make it all worthwhile because it means my messages are getting through to the intended audience.
There have also been important lessons I’ve learned during this journey. I am well aware that people see power in the words I say and so there is responsibility I place on myself to make sure I always give people the most accurate information I have available to me and that I try and convey the messages in a way that is easy for people to understand but not condescending.
It’s a hard balance to achieve after having a government like ours, who have proven constantly and consistently how condescending they can be when it comes to public relations, so I try to use them as examples of how not to deal with people.
To the silent majority, Thank you. This has been a journey of learning for all of us and one I don’t take for granted. You have been there when I’ve needed you and I don’t take the kindness you have shown me for granted. From flower cuttings and haircuts to drinks and even accommodation. The blessings offered to me for sharing my experiences and knowledge with you all aren’t overlooked but none compare to the friendship you have shown me.
Thank you for trusting and believing in my journey to unite all of us and I look forward to continuing this journey with you as we grow together.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini– My strength is not as an individual, but as a collective.