“I want to inspire people to be brave, in the same way that those people inspire me. I want to inspire people to ask for help when they need it. That is one of the greatest things people can do.”
1. If you see something, say something.
This was a top takeaway about online harassment. Brittan advised the best thing we can do is to say “I don’t understand why you are doing xyz. I don’t think it is right.” Most people won’t behave in ways that go against the social norm of the space (in this instance, being online). Support one another. Stand up for one another. We are all better when everyone is better.
2. The worst thing that happened in her life ended up being the path to the best thing.
After the years of courtroom battles and extreme online harassment, Brittan describes herself as the ninja turtle of the internet. She specializes in the sewers to fight the bad guys. The worst experience in her life helped shape her current path where she is making an impact. She didn’t let people who thought they could silence her win.
3. Be brave enough to change your mind.
Brittan is inspired by people who are brave enough to change their minds. In her line of work, she connects with a lot of people who have immense strength of character to examine the framework on the foundation of which their entire lives have been built. For example, her friend who left everyone and everything when she exited the Westboro Baptist Church to start a new life on the outside. Every one of these people humbles her because of the journey they have taken, because they publicly recognize that it is ok to change their mind.
4. Her power pieces help remind her where she has been and what she has learned.
Whenever Brittan travels, she gets a piece of jewelry to remind her of the lessons she learns. When Brittan was doing post doctorate studies in Afghanistan, she had assumptions and preconceived notions about the culture and how it impacts women. However, when she began connecting with women, asking them why the culture is the way it is, she learned that her assumptions were not correct. This experience went both ways, as the women in Afghanistan had assumptions about Brittan and her life. This was a defining moment in Brittan’s career, and she fondly remembers it by the necklace she wears.
5. We are more connected than we realize.
The internet shapes us by making people feel more isolated than we really are, since so much happens behind a computer screen. We just need to ask for help when we need it and reciprocate by asking others if they need help.
Many thanks to Brittan Heller, Figma, MM LaFleur, NakedWines.com, 20/20, our volunteers, and…
Thank you all for coming to our July Changemaker Chat with Brittan Heller last week! Below are some of the key highlights we captured as we sat on the edges of our chairs listening to Brittan’s powerful chat.