Minding Your Manners on Social Media

“Please just be kind.”

These are words that I repeat to my 4 1/2 year old twins virtually every day, multiple times a day. Oftentimes I wonder if I am getting through to them at all since it seems to fall on deaf ears. Or they have learned effectively to tune me out. But then I see them share a toy or kiss one another’s boo boos and think maybe, just maybe, it’s working. Praise the lord.

It’s a lesson all of us moms can use in this crazy world of social media. I fully admit that I am a Facebook junkie, and in the past year I finally relented and joined Instagram. I work from home, so during my break times, I love to jump over to read the news, Huffington Post, and my favorite blogs. Of course, given this particular stage in my life, I am drawn more to articles that have to do with moms and parenting.

But y’all.

The commentary on the above mediums is out.of.control. It’s rare that I can click on anything and read just positive remarks. There’s always snarky comments thrown in there and sometimes, many times, just down right VICIOUS statements that make my blood boil.

Here’s the thing :: I don’t think we have to all agree. Not even close. How vanilla and boring would that be? I mean, just on this team of 17 contributors, we all parent completely different. We have homeschool moms, private school moms, and public school moms. Breastfed babies and formula only babies. Cloth diaper users and Pampers buyers. Moms who craft up a storm vs moms who recoil at Pinterest {me!}. Stay at home, work from home, and working moms. We all come from drastically different backgrounds, and we are all unique in our approaches to parenting.

But the one, singular thing we have in common is that we all are MOMS. And we all care immensely for our kids and want to be the best mom possible for them.

A little hidden secret :: Our HMB Team has a private Facebook page where we brainstorm ideas for posts and events. What initially was a way to keep us all on the same page regarding the amazing content we try to put out to our readers has morphed into a mom’s group of sorts. Many of us turn to this group to get advice on various subjects or just plain vent about something in our lives. And you know what’s even more awesome? No.one. and I mean, no one, makes one even slightly critical comment regarding someone’s inquiry or issue. We support each other. Even when we may not agree on a particular subject, we word it such that we are still kind. So important to build and cultivate trust amongst each other. And amazingly enough, we are learning from each other and implementing different techniques in our parenting styles! Jenn happens to love crafts. Guess what? Now because of her ideas, I’ve used at least 3 or 4 craft activities that she has posted. I even did my very first craft post! {HUGE for me!} This season I have an affinity with anything buffalo plaid, leopard, and vests. Guess who’s wearing that now and posting it? Jenn. And I’m also known as the “queen of many words” in these parts – and Jenn has written several moving posts that have been so heartfelt and honest that I’ve cried. I mean, not the deepest examples clearly, but the idea is that we inspire each other, to be better moms, wives, and friends.

That’s why it hurts my heart to see so much negativity happening on these social media platforms. And they are PLATFORMS. Places of influence. Places where people turn to be heard, to ask for advice, to share something they’ve learned, to vent, and yes, maybe even escape.

We are immensely grateful that the vast majority of all the HMB readers are the most supportive and loyal followers. Even when you may not agree with a particular subject area, most everyone expresses their opinions in a positive manner, and it’s incredibly refreshing to see. We don’t have to always think the same way – that’s the beauty of all of this.

Yet recently I was on the receiving end of some <interesting> commentary. I won’t go into details because it’s really not important. What is important is that the comments got absolutely bananas, so much so that I literally had tears pouring down my face as I frantically typed again and again to defend myself.

People, I’m human. All of us who contribute to Houston Moms Blog are human. We write because we love it. We share our lives with you. Many times, we take off our shields of armor and bare our hearts because we believe it can make a difference – or at the very least, you will know that you are not alone in the crazy. By nature I am an over-sharer. I don’t keep a lot of things private, mainly because I NEED to know that there are others like me. But all the negativity has me thinking of pulling in the reins a bit and not being quite so transparent. My heart is bruised easily. However, deep down, I know that would be wrong. Then the negativity and the nay-sayers win. {By the way, in case it isn’t clear, I don’t expect everyone to like me or “get” me. I haven’t since college. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine with me.}

Because of how social media operates, there are those who feel empowered by their blanket of anonymity. {I am paraphrasing a fellow contributor here.} And I totally agree. I cannot imagine many of these “mom attackers” actually telling someone to their face what they feel so brazen to communicate via the written word. And if they do, I can’t imagine that they have many supportive friends in their lives.

I am certainly not an angel when it comes to expressing my opinion. I’ve been known to shove my foot in my face and eat crow many a time. But I pray/hope that I’ve always come across as respectful even when I disagree. I don’t know one person whose mind is going to be changed by attacking their character, morals, values, or family. And yes, that all happens. Just yesterday I saw a post on an IG account that I follow. The mom had just adopted her beautiful daughter from China. Who could have anything negative to say about that? Well, someone did. “Well, she sure doesn’t look happy to be with your family.” I mean, really? That’s just a drop in the bucket when it comes to personal attacks. And it’s not right.

Certainly, it’s not what I want to reflect to my children as well. How I can I tell them to “be kind” in one moment and in the next, write out a frenetic, unkind post or comment? It’s hypocritical and definitely not behavior I want to model for my children. I do get angry sometimes when I read particular things. And I do have “a lot of feelings” as many of my friends would say. However, as I’ve gotten older {maybe not wiser yet – but working on it}, I’ve learned to take a step back, evaluate the situation, and assess whether it’s worth it or not to engage in some sort of debate. Most of the time, it’s not. Rule of thumb ::  I take a few hours, sometimes even 24 hours to remove myself and see if it warrants a response. And chances are, after 24 hours have passed, I no longer have “all the feelings.” Or if I still do, it comes out much kinder rather than in a flood of anger welling up and spilling over unnecessarily.

Moms, we need to bring back the kindness. We need to rally around each other and respect each other’s differences for what they are. We are a village. We can do big things. But the negativity has got to stop. Just stop. Stop judging. Assume the best and move on. Honestly, I have enough stress in my life to worry about Sally Smith doing whatever. If you are truly concerned about Sally, then use your words for good. Explain kindly your point of view and why you hold it. Don’t attack. It’s silly, really. If you wouldn’t say it to them at the playground, then don’t say it to them on social media.

At the end of the day, we were born with these cool opposable thumbs and amazingly adept index fingers. If something that someone posts bothers you SO much that you couldn’t possible say something kind, then do what our mothers told us with a 21st century twist :: If you can’t say anything nice, scroll past and don’t say anything at all.

HMB Fave Things - Team

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16 Responses to Minding Your Manners on Social Media

  1. Avatar
    Tracy January 13, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    Yes! Thanks for this, Meagan!!!

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C January 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

      Thank YOU Tracy for reading and always being a kind momma 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Kristy January 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    YES!!!! Love you, Meagan, and I love your heart! I’m all about BEING KIND this year and always. It was even one of my resolutions. Kindness always wins.

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C January 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

      Amen, Kristy! xoxo

  3. Avatar
    Karen Davis January 13, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    Megan, well said! Your comments really resonate regardless of where we are in our stage of life. I see too many snide, ugly remarks on social media and I think everyone should think hard before commenting…….thanks for your thoughts!!!! Karen

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C January 13, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

      Wouldn’t that be a lovely world, Karen?!? If we would all just pause and think about whether it’s even worth saying something…or if you must, we certainly can be adults and say it nicely. Thanks for reading!

  4. Avatar
    Chelsea P January 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Super well said Meagan! It is shocking what some people will say on social media, but I usually just feel sorry for them. They must be very unhappy, misunderstood or not getting an outlet to vent their own frustrations. I have had to learn how to not immediately react too since that just usually adds fuel to their fire. Great reminders to all!

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C January 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      Thanks, Chels! And thanks for being who you are – so kind!

  5. Avatar
    April | Our Little Loves January 13, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    So true. The internet bullying is so bad. I disagree with people all the time. Doesn’t mean I should nit pick or attack them.

    I wrote a post about the internet crazy a month or so ago, along these same lines. I actually should have submitted that one with my contributor application! :/ Anyways. Here it is if y’all would like to add it to my “file” 😉

    http://finleyscorner.blogspot.com/2014/11/haters-gonna-hate.html

    I may not be perfect but I really hope to teach my kids and to lead by example that we are kind to everyone….unless of course they are really really ugly to us. Haha.

    I agree with Chelsea’s comment above. People like that have got to have some deeper stuff going on…

    • Meagan C
      Meagan C January 14, 2015 at 7:48 am #

      Exactly!!! What’s the point in the attack? I just don’t understand if it’s not going to turn into a fruitful discussion. I often wonder about the kids – do they see Mommy being mean and think that’s ok? Like you, I want to raise kind kiddos. I have to think that would be difficult if I was bashing constantly. Thanks for commenting, April!

  6. Avatar
    Julie September 30, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    YES! Thank you for saying this. Why is it so many people feel they can say hurtful things to people just because they are behind the protection of a screen? If you would think twice before saying it to someone’s face, maybe think twice before saying it on social media?

  7. Avatar
    Noranda Duren June 28, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    It blows my mind what guts people have behind a computer or smart phone screen… I hope others realize how gross and ugly it is and that social media can be for the good of moms!

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