For this week, I want to take a step back and talk about social media. Specifically, how I have come to handle juggling my social media presence and protecting my kids. So let’s chat a little bit about what it means to not only be a style blogger, who relies on social media outlets to promote herself, but to also be a mom.
My Instagram account has rapidly gained followers since I started this blogging gig. And, while I don’t have a ton of followers, I have way more than I did when I first started. Back in my early days of IG, my posts were all about my kids. If not my kids, it was nature photos, or places we visited. It was great for just catching snaps of my kids...and having them in one place, like a story board of their little lives. I didn’t necessarily worry about it back then when I had like 10 followers, all of whom I personally knew. Currently, I have 600 followers and 4,509 posts. Now, that’s not a huge following, but that’s 590 more people then I used to have and I probably only know maybe 20 personally. Everyday the number of followers grows. And everyday I wonder, who’s watching.
And, honestly, there is no way to know. What I can tell you is that i’ve seen some profiles of people that follow me, and what they post is not something that I want to be involved with, so they are blocked, immediately. Faster then you can say Instagram. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more. My IG profile is public, anyone can see it. For me and my social media presence, it has to be, as I rely heavily on social media to promote my brand. Anyone can follow me, although I can remove them and block.
Anyone can message me. And some do. Some are honest inquires, some are sales pitches, some are notes from friends... and then there’s the "others". It’s the "others" that worry me sometimes. When I start getting messages requesting that I smash bugs in my heels, or asking me how soft my boots are on the inside, or asking me about my feet, or what I wear to bed...these are the others that cloud my vision. These are the "others" that have turned me. Like a nuclear fallout shelter..I am near capapcity.
So what do I do? Recently, I started noticing that I haven’t been posting images of my kids on Instagram. I don’t remember when I stopped, and I don’t think it was intentional at first. Maybe subconsciously I thought it was the best way to protect them. And I think it is, at least for me, for right now.
I can’t shield them from the craziness of life forever, I’ve never believed that that’s the right way. I have always talked honestly but gently to them about adult matters. I’ve even talked to them about my job, and that I have to be conscious about what I post online, hoping to teach them early about using social media correctly and smartly. But, do I want the “others” seeing my kids? Not if I have a way to prevent it. I’ve put myself in a position to be attracting “others”, whether they are devious or not. I’ve accepted that, sort of. However, my kids didn’t. It alarms me to think that if these are the messages that I get what kind of messages do I not get, and do these involve my kids. If these distasteful profiles are representative of those bold enough to put themselves out there and follow me...who is watching without the bold outreach? Who's watching from the side lines?
Then there is Facebook, which is a little bit different. On Facebook, I have separate accounts. I have a business page for my photography, a style page for Rain In Style and I have my personal page. Both business pages are public, but not my personal page. On my personal page, you have to request to be my “friend” and to be able to see what’s on my page. Yes, I have received random friend requests from people that I do not know. Just recently, it was some sort of "service" page that someone had set up...I don't even want to discuss it on here. Of course those are denied, but so are seemingly regular people's friend requests. Sometimes I apologize to people for not accepting their friend requests, but really I'm not sorry. My personal Facebook page will remain closed to anyone that I do not know. There are ways to follow my style adventures, and my photo business that are separate from my personal page. Sometimes, I find myself seeking solace in that personal space, even though nothing online is ever really "personal", is it?
There are days when I have to block numerous people, on both social media channels, and I sort of feel like this photo...looking over my shoulder, trying to detemine who is actually watching. Sometimes I feel like completely giving up on this blogging thing, that the craziness of the social media world isn't worth it. Like I want to go back inside that fallout shelter and let the world just be. But, in the end, I choose to keep going. That's part of the social media lesson, especially for my kids. I can shelter them for a little while, but eventually the world will open up, the crazy will come in, and like the fallout shelter...we must be prepared.
So, for now, I will continue to discuss the do's and dont's of social media with my kids, while excluding them from it. I've told them that I am careful not to post anything showing my address and never anything involving nudity, or anything purposefully hurtful to others. In another post, I will talk about how sometimes social media has not just alarmed me, but has dulled me. There is a part of social media that can be defeating and can crush your confidence. That's a topic worthy of its own post, so be on the lookout for that. Until then, I encourage a discussion about how you all handle social media and your kids. What about older kids? Has anyone had run ins with questionable people?