By Steven Vickerie 

With the evolution of social media, folks from all walks of life have used multiple virtual platforms to exert their influence for various causes. Some “influencers” use their power for marketing purposes while others seek to create a safe space for the voiceless. One of Guyana’s very own Influencers, Mellisa Atwell, has used her platform to ‘shake things up’ by not only addressing social issues, but also in being a conduit for the voiceless. But while there are immense benefits that come with her advocacy, Atwell told Guyana Standard that there are sometimes serious consequences that come with being an influencer.

Using her social media handle @mellymell, Atwell has brought to light many discrepancies within several sectors including the private sector, and the Guyana Police Force. But being an influencer has attracted a number of enemies. Atwell admitted that at first, she often found herself “clapping back at the haters.”

“I will admit that at first, when people started attacking me for the things I started posting on social media, it got to me. I felt like I needed to defend myself and in some cases I would clap back at people. I grew and I realized that everyone has an opinion, whether you do good or bad, the fact that they are on social media, it gives them the power to have an opinion, and that’s just what it is; an opinion,” Atwell said.


Back in 2019, Atwell was slapped with a $10M lawsuit by the Balwant Singh Hospital, after she shared several anonymous posts on her Facebook page with several claims from former patients about the health institution. That post went viral immediately and it caused quite a frenzy at the private institution.

She told the court that the messages she received were from patients who were disgruntled about the hospital’s services.

The High Court later threw out a request by the Balwant Singh’s Hospital to prevent the Women’s Rights and Social Activist from sharing horror stories of pregnant women who were patients at the private institution. Justice Fidela Corbin, who presided over the matter also disallowed the Hospital’s request for the experiences shared by the activist be removed.

While that case is still ongoing, it was just one of many instances in which the influencer has faced backlash for her efforts. She noted also that her post has led to her many times receiving a number of legal notices from those involved in allegations that were posted by her followers. But what keeps Atwell going despite these legal hurdles?

She responded, “I realized that there are a lot of people who can’t speak out about an issue because of whatever circumstances they face. The reality is, these people in some cases have exhausted their avenue to find a solution. I realize that people use my page to voice their concerns, grievances and sometimes they tell their stories in hopes of preventing others from going through the same thing… This has become a platform to give a voice to the voiceless.”

‘Melly Mel ‘ noted that apart from uncovering injustices, her page has been used as a platform to raise funds and awareness for vulnerable persons and in some cases, used as a tool to help market businesses owned by young local entrepreneurs. “I feel good when someone comes to me and says ‘hey, thank you for what you did for me.’ It’s not just about being famous, it’s about using your platform to help bring about change not only nationally but also in the lives of people who sometimes don’t have an option,” Atwell said.


While most people chase ‘clout’ others have a tendency of doing almost anything to become famous. It is no secret that numbers generate more attention and if that attention is harnessed for the right reasons, it can become a lucrative venture for many. But according to Atwell, while she does not judge influencers for their posture on social media, she believes using social media platforms to impact change is vital in today’s society.

“I don’t judge other influencers for the way they handle their pages, but at the same time I think people can do more. I can only speak for myself when I say that I have seen how peoples’ lives can be impacted by just the simple gestures of posting their stories online. Again, I say, I don’t fault people for the way they run their page but I think it is important to use it to bring about change,” Atwell said.

She concluded that influencers must use their platforms to start conversations on national issues with the aim of allowing transparency and accountability.  She said, “Do you know how many people come to my inbox with stories about the injustice they face with the police force and sometimes even the labour department? No one ain’t getting justice so many of them use my bridge… employers are more concerned about who sent the complaint rather than working their issues out. We need to do better if we want to see better.”


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