As a young content-maker, I’ve experienced firsthand how the internet can swiftly transform from a magical, empowering place of connection, to a cesspool of misdirected anger and torment. It’s why so many strong, talented writers and filmmakers are encouraged to avoid the God-forsaken comment sections—traditionally speaking, it’s where good feelings go to die.
In fact, according to research shared by the Foundation of Young Australians, over 60% of Australian adults have experienced some form of online abuse in their lifetime - with 25% having been threatened online with physical violence, and 18% having been on the receiving end of degrading, race-based messages.
Fortunately, video-sharing mega-platform YouTube is taking a step to combat these statistics, launching their #ShareSomeGood initiative with the hopes of encouraging up-and-coming change-makers to produce content which not only educates, but amplifies diverse voices across their online communities.
Last night, a number of these projects premiered to live audiences in Sydney - including the short film Ocean’s 12 by emerging filmmaker Georgia Quinn.
“The notion of creating video content specifically for internet consumption is new to me,” Quinn said ahead of the premiere. “The enormity of the internet as an audience is quite daunting, but also exciting, especially with stories like Ocean 12, which I'm passionate about people hearing.”
“But you do have to brace yourself for backlash,” she concedes.
A music writer by day, Quinn says she’s well-versed in facing the negativity that too-often comes with sharing thoughts or opinions online.
“The assumed lack of accountability and anonymity people feel behind a screen can make them a lot more confident to say things they might not say in real life - which I think has both positive and negative ramifications,” she says.
Ocean’s 12, a film about a cricket team of refugees from Sri Lanka, is the culmination of Quinn’s ongoing personal journey to bring some humanity to the highly politicised refugee debate, which included spending some time at Villawood Detention Centre as an 18-year-old.
“There's a lot of vitriol towards refugees in the mainstream media, but I've found that most people who are anti-refugee have actually never met one, and their preconceived notions about the refugee experience are in conflict with what I've been told by people who have actually lived it.”
Switching gears, Oliver Levi-Malouf found the opportunity to produce super-cute documentary Dear Future Me was a chance to reinstate his voice as a young queer artist, despite the prejudice he’s faced in the past.
“Not everyone is going to love what you do, and as a content creator you always have to keep that in mind,” he tells me. “I sometimes receive some really homophobic or bigoted comments – even in response to content I considered to be fairly conservative. I look at them as a sign I’m making content that challenges peoples’ beliefs.”
Giving a voice to five young LGBTIQ+ people, Dear Future Me serves as a love letter to oneself, encouraging each subject to reflect on their respective journeys and write a message to their future selves.
“This film is incredibly important to me – probably more than any project I’ve ever done,” Levi-Malouf says. “I think I’ve been able to communicate something special about each person, and I hold that very close to me as I launch this film. When people are watching it, I hope they’ll take away something special with them too – and above all, recognise that queer youth want futures like everyone else does.”
Admitting that he’s previously found solace in the shared experiences of young queer content-creators online, Oliver says that the chance to create a short documentary for others like him has been a cathartic experience.
“Having an organisation like YouTube encourage me to tell queer stories is incredibly important,” he says.
“This campaign gave me and other content creators a valuable chance to speak from a place of authenticity and create content that was unmotivated by ego – with the goal of voicing perspectives that aren’t often heard outside our communities.”
You can learn more about the #ShareSomeGood campaign here: