Winston Armani, Deseret News
LOGAN — When an anonymous cyberbully attacked Adam Vail's daughter, he admits he was angry.
But he decided to respond in a different way — with kindness.
Sunday night, Vail’s 15-year-old daughter, Taylor Vail, received a nasty message on Twitter.
“She had received a tweet from someone who doesn’t use their name or their picture,” he said. “I don’t remember the exact tweet, something along the lines of: 'There’s this girl in school that no one likes. She’s really annoying,' and tagged my daughter in it and hashtagged some offensive things.”
Taylor admitted that the tweet upset her, but she decided not to let it get to her.
“Usually, when people say stuff like that, it’s because they want to feel better,” she said. “They just need that love in their life.”
But the next day, she got another tweet that said something like: “Not only is she tall and skinny, no body shape. Another hashtag that was offensive,” her father said.
That tweet, he said, really hit her hard. As a parent, Vail's first emotion and first reaction was anger.
“You want to do something,” he said. “You want to take matters into your own hands.”
He has a Twitter account and thought about tweeting something back to the cyberbully. “But then I realized the only way to really fight negativity is with positivity,” he said.
Vail, who works at Utah State University, emailed friends and co-workers telling them what happened to his daughter. He never told them what account the tweets came from because he didn’t want any backlash toward the bully or to have anyone say anything rude to her or him.
He told his friends he didn’t care about the bully, but he was concerned about how his daughter was feeling. He asked them to tweet positive and kind things to his daughter and to use the hashtags #TaylorVail and #bepositive.
“Whether you know her or not, what will matter is what kind of an impact this will have on her when we blow up her Twitter account with positive and kind things,” he told his friends.
People quickly started tweeting his daughter. He knew many of the people, but there were tweets from many more people whom he doesn't know. Within two hours, she received about 56 tweets.
Taylor, a volleyball player for Logan High School, was on her way to a game when the tweets started popping up.
“All of a sudden my phone kept vibrating,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh goodness, what is going on?’”
She looked at her phone and saw the first tweet, which came from one of her dad’s friends.
“Then when I come back from my game, my phone just kind of like blew up with tweets. And all the love that I got from people — people I didn’t even know — it was amazing.”
“I was so overwhelmed,” she added. “I broke down and started crying. I felt so loved.”
Vail said it’s amazing what a small action, such as sending a kind tweet, can do and how far it can go. His plan worked, he said. His daughter has a smile on her face and has a positive attitude.
"When she got home last night, she probably came home at about 8 or 8:30, and she was beaming," he said Wednesday. "She was completely happy, and every time a new tweet came in, she was like, 'Check this one out!'"
She has since received more than 100 tweets and they are still coming in.
Seeing the extreme kindness people showed toward his daughter brought a tear to Vail's eye.
Bullies, Taylor said, are just people who want to be loved and noticed.
"The amount of love I’ve been shown, and people keep showing me, it’s amazing," she said, getting very emotional. "It just feels so good, and I really wish that girl who said those things about me can feel that love, too. I really just want her to feel it like I have."
If she ever learns who sent her the mean tweets, Taylor said she plans to thank them.
“She made me feel better about myself, even though that wasn’t her goal,” she said. “She made me feel so loved. I would want to show it back to her.”
Contributing: Peter Samore, Alex Cabrero
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