Floyd Blaikie, who works at a Halifax rock station, admits that she has been targeted online in the past but the email she received this morning was particularly harsh.
“They said that I was faking food allergies to disguise an eating disorder. Which, trust me if I could eat pizza I would eat it for every meal every day. Yeah it can be a little bit harsh, especially as a female in the media,” said Blaikie.
Instead of writing a snarky reply or ignoring the hurtful words, Blaikie decided to reach out to people online, in an effort to spread kindness.
She asked that people do something kind for another person and Tweet her using the hashtag, #hugsnotshrugs. The campaign went viral and was soon trending across Canada.
“I was almost in tears I was so upset when I saw what had been written about me. And I usually try to keep that under wraps and it's hard when you're having a bad day to do this and to be really upbeat. You know I'm helping people wake up in the morning, I can't be a downer, I've got to be happy. And by the time the shift was over I was trying not to cry because I was so happy and overwhelmed,” said Blaikie.
“I lost count after 100 good deeds at about 9:30 this morning — and I think we're approaching tweets in the thousands. We are the number one trend on Twitter right now in Halifax and people are paying it forward all around Halifax and doing random acts of kindness.”
The idea is to combat bullying and the apathy that sometimes surrounds it with kindness.
“I was bullied in elementary school and in junior high — and I still had quite a few friends, and sometimes when things would happen, they just wouldn't say anything,” she said.
But Wednesday, hundreds of people spoke up and did something about it.
People like Mark Peyton, who bought lunch for his boss.
“It's actually a way to overcome online bullying, bullying in general and just kind of turn it into a good thing,” he said.
Pink Shirt Day
The campaign is timely. Friday is Pink Shirt Day, a day where students are encouraged to wear pink shirts as a way to stand up for kids that are bullied.
As part of the anti-bullying event, Blaikie has been asked to speak to students at East Hants Rural High School. She was asked earlier in the week, before #hugsnotshrugs took off.
She said instead of a speech, she plans to share the good deed Tweets with students.
“I just want to thank everybody that has supported this campaign. I had thought of this by 6 a.m. this morning and by 9 a.m. it had taken off,” said Blaikie.
“I know a lot of people can crap on Halifax and Nova Scotia, especially in election season there’s so much mudslinging and negativity and I think that today a lot of people felt really lucky to be Haligonians and I’m just really happy people supported it the way they did. Keep going.”