When you sign up for a social media account you are opening yourself up to criticism. There’s no way around it, you can have a very public, or extremely private account and still receive negativity from someone, somewhere. There is no magic “block anyone with something bad to say” button. Trolls will be trolls, and they troll for a reason. They want to be acknowledged. They thrive off attention and post negativity for a reason, they want you to get upset and call them out. They want a confrontation and to feel like they have affected you in some way. I’m writing this because, yes, I’ve been affected by negative comments, but there’s a big reason why I will never personally write back to a nasty comment or message because if I do, I’m letting them win. I’m letting them feel accomplished and that’s not something I’m ok with. There’s a reason why I will never, ever publicly call out an individual account that has been nasty, if I did they would see it as a victory, not something to be ashamed about and it would encourage them to either a) keep sending hateful comments to me or b) send hateful comments to someone else, hoping for another reaction/acknowledgment.
This post is just a vent, as I’m sure many of you reading this have also been on the receiving end of some unsavory comments and if I can shed any insight or empathy, this personal essay will have been well worth posting.
Whenever I receive a hateful comment or message, I remind myself that there is so much more positivity out there. It’s very, very easy to get caught up in hate vs. love. Think about how you feel about yourself when looking in the mirror, we tend to pick out & focus on our flaws before we acknowledge what we love about ourselves. The same goes for social media. It’s easy to get hung up on that 1 particularly nasty comment in a sea of many lovely comments. A bit crazy, right? We should put our energy towards the good and shrug the bad off & that’s exactly what I try to do.
Living in NYC, I’m confronted with a lot of negative people & a lack of general common courtesy and respect, but it also teaches you exactly how you would never want to be or act. I’ve had doors slammed in my face (both literally & figuratively). I’ve been 9 months pregnant on a subway with a 1 year old in a stroller by my side gripping on the hanging metal bar for balance looking like an uncoordinated beached whale, and everyone who would glance at me would immediately look down at the ground or pretend to have not seen me so they wouldn’t have to give up their seat. I’ve been judged for not wearing expensive clothes. I’ve had eyes rolled at me when Kai throws a tantrum. On social media, I’ve been unfollowed as a way for someone to feel more powerful about themselves. I’ve been purposely excluded from “mommy groups” that made me feel like I was back in high school surrounded by cliques. I’ve been told what I’m “doing wrong” as a mother and what I “should” be doing instead. I could make a list that goes on for days, but in the end, I’m not resentful. It just makes me realize that the world is not all rainbows and butterflies and once you accept that, your expectations start lining up with reality. This is not to say that everything I’ve mentioned has made me hard, or cynical. The exact opposite. I’ve been taught how to handle an array of different personalities and how you should equally respect each & every person you meet regardless of how much money they make, what they wear, or what family they come from. None of that should ever matter. Becoming a mom has specifically taught me that unsolicited “advice” is usually (and by usually, I mean 99% of the time) unwanted. Unsolicited advice (in my experience) has mostly come from people not really wanting to help, just wanting to criticize and let you know that they “know better” than you.
When I was younger (and when negativity affected me 100x more), my first reaction to negativity would be to fight it. I thought by fighting back I would somehow “win” and feel better. I never felt better. I felt little. I felt like I pushed myself down to their level and in the end, felt worse about how I handled myself vs. the actual negativity that started it all. I believe that it’s good to stand up for yourself and what you believe in, but there are other ways to do that rather than fighting fire with fire. I now try to let comments roll off my back. It’s hard to completely forget them because words stick with you, but just know in the scheme of things, they are nothing. How you feel about yourself is the only thing that should matter. If you can look back at how you treat others and know that’s exactly how you would want to be treated, I’d say you’re doing a pretty amazing job.
I’m happy with my decision to make my account public and share my family. I’ve developed some truly amazing friendships through Instagram. I’ve received heartfelt messages from fellow mamas and mamas to be that have made me laugh, cry, and push me to be more open. Every time I feel hesitant to post something personal, I remember that someone, somewhere might be going through the same thing and by reading my post they might not feel as alone. When I was a first-time mom (which was a very, very short time ago), I had absolutely no clue what I was doing & felt incredibly lonely. I followed a few mommy bloggers and instantly felt less alone. Knowing that you’re not alone and that other people are struggling with your same exact issues is so very comforting and I thank social media for giving me a community I wouldn’t have otherwise.