• Amanda B. Cunningham

MY SPACE, MY RULES

I’ve contemplated this over and over.


Yes, my Instagram is public.

Yes, I share personal things on there.


But that doesn’t give anyone an open go at me, right?



As our accounts grow, I’ve experienced keyboard warriors do as well. There’s been a handful of times I’ve responded to derogatory and vulgar direct messages only to remember that’s what they wanted. To push my buttons. My husband told me once, don’t wrestle a pig, you’ll both get dirty and the pig likes it. I keep that one on repeat.


So the question remains, because I allow myself to be publicly vulnerable – should I expect or accept all judgements, digs and bullying that come my way?


No.


My account, very much like my personal life, is something I choose to share and also something I will fiercely protect. And just like my personal and professional life, I'm going to set boundaries and guidelines to ensure it remains a healthy, productive landing space.


I know internet trolls won’t actually read or abide by my guidelines but, it was an enlightening exercise to evaluate information streams and interactions that affect my wellbeing.


If I wouldn’t allow someone to bully me at the gym or grocery store, why would I allow it on my Instagram? In this new age of more screen-interaction and less face-to-face, I think it’s important we set standards that are similar to what we hold in real life.


An influencer I follow posted her rules and ever since then, I’ve felt empowered to be kind but take no shit. The very idea that I control my account and who I connect with felt freeing.


I’ve created my rules (with a lot of inspiration from others) and have decided, if those boundaries are crossed, I will block and report. My intention is to unite in positive, forward-moving discussion. That does not mean we always have to agree, but it does mean I expect you to be kind.


I invite you to hold social media communities to the same standards you hold your spouse, co-workers, friends and family. It’s empowering to create a healthy culture in all aspects of life.


Comments, DMs and Opinions:

When opinions are solicited, respectable feedback is much appreciated. If I’m simply sharing parts of my life, this does not mean I’m looking for your approval or disapproval.

If you would not say something to my face, DO NOT send it from behind your screen. Imagine what your comment would feel like on the receiving end. Everyone behind these squares are human and have feelings. Before you respond to anyone remember to T.H.I.N.K.


T – is what I’m saying true?

H- is what I’m saying helpful?

I – is what I’m responding with inspiring?

N - is what I want to say necessary?

K – is what I’m saying kind?


Ask yourself if you’re able to understand the difference between opinion, judgement, lifestyle choice and preferences. You are welcome to disapprove or disagree with me and yet also, do not need to share it with me. The golden rule applies to social media, too!


Triggers:

Know when you’re triggered. If something I say or post triggers you, this is your work, not mine. A trigger is when you read/see/hear something and feel an immediate emotional response. If that response makes you feel angry, jealous, resentful or negative – ask yourself why before responding. For example, comments that include the following typically follow a triggered response.


- In my opinion…

- Are you sure about…

- You should consider…

- No offense but…

- Just saying…

- Honestly or actually,

- Just curious…


Research:

As much as you want everything I do and say to align with your beliefs, I want you to fully understand who I am before you comment. If you do not know where I came from, what I’ve been through, what my education is, what my history is or what experiences I’ve had, you shouldn’t assume anything about me.


Bottom line – if you’re not married to me, you probably don’t know me well enough to pass judgement.


Zero Tolerance:

Many say that because a profile is public or because someone shares personal stories, that they are opening themselves up for any and all comments. I disagree. My sharing of personal stories does not open the door for you to be an asshole. All real-life pleasantries apply.


Sharing photos of life, work and family puts everyone in a vulnerable situation. Your comments have the power to shift my energy and for that reason, I will be protective of myself and of my page. I do hold the power to shape the culture of this community.


I have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and cruelty. If you are aggressive, hurtful, repetitive or rude to me or others in my space, you’ll be blocked and reported.


Off Limits:

Unsolicited and negative comments about:


My political stance – you are welcome to voice concern and express your side/understanding of issues but, there is a time and place for it. For example, if I post a cute baby picture, this is not the time or place to talk politics. And remember, your comments do not need to be nasty if your stance differs from mine, there’s an adult way to discuss differences.


My husband’s career – His work is not mine, and my work is not his. Choose your outlet properly.


Financial Situation – every one of us is in a different phase of life and that comes with unique financial situations, personal spending tolerances and thresholds. Your limits will inherently be different than mine. There is no shame in it. I will not be shamed for the phase we are in, nor do I envy the phases of others. If you want to comment about it, consider this a trigger for yourself and ask why my financial situation bothers you.


Family Situations – every parent parents their way, and should! There is no need to shame people or share unsolicited advice about safety concerns. Things like helmets, seat belts, clothing, toy choices and food are off limits. These types of comments are not necessary, even if it triggers you because of your life experiences. Your comments come off as judgmental and rude. Even if you’re well-meaning, keep it to yourself or unfollow me (for your own sake!) And if there is a situation where you genuinely want to share your concerns, there’s a way to say, “hey, I noticed and was concerned,” rather than, “you should, no offense but, in my opinion,” etc.


Lifestyle Choices – we are all free to our own lifestyle choices (TG!) These are our choices and are not open for opinion or judgement. Again, if you feel triggered by a lifestyle choice we make, ask yourself why it triggers you and keep it to yourself. This goes for family and friends, just the same. If I didn’t ask for your opinion it means I’m not interested in it.


If my content makes you happy, makes you feel connected or inspired - then stay and play. If it triggers you, makes you feel like leaving nasty comments or makes you feel less happy, unfollow me – it’s better for both of our mental health. We should surround ourselves with people who uplift us and make us want to be better versions of ourselves. If that’s not me, empower yourself and unfollow – and I promise to do the same.

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