The signup screen appeared on my computer monitor. I quickly completed the email, name, and birthday fields, before hitting enter on my keyboard. I smiled, as a welcome page emerged. It was 2009 and I was now officially a member of the fastest growing social media networking site in the world, Facebook.
As time went by I uploaded pictures of myself, family, friends, my vacations, and more….however, there were no pictures of my son. Why you may ask? Well, it wasn’t because I was embarrassed or ashamed of Nate, I love my baby and I am very proud of him. The reason I didn’t share photos of my child was because I was afraid.
You see, early on, I noticed that social media could be a pretty harsh environment. There is a judgmental and malicious community of people that have come be labeled as “trolls”. These individuals are described by urban dictionary as ones “who post deliberate private messages to newsgroups or message boards with the intention of causing maximum disruption and arguments”. Yes, those people were the ones that I feared.
And I had a good reason to be frightened. I had watched their mean and obnoxious behavior on the Facebook platform and it grieved me. On one page, that was dedicated specifically for Special Needs children, I noticed how an act of parents posting pictures of their children with special needs was turned into hurtful lashings.
There were people who wrote negative remarks under the pictures. As I scrolled down the list of comments, my heart boiled in pain and disbelief that people could be so mean and malicious. From that moment I promised myself that I would never let my child’s pictures or disability, to be fodder or comedic relief for others. If people wanted to be mean, let them, but not at my child’s expense, as I screamed inwardly “I wish they would….”
So, I didn’t put pictures of Nate on Facebook to protect him.
Then as the years went by, I began feel that I wanted to share my son and our life. Perhaps those mean individuals could be educated (read my post about educating people).
I then asked myself the question “If my child is not seen, via social media, how will our life and our story impact others, possibly changing their heart, which will hopefully change their behavior?”
Exactly! People need to see Nate.
And I know that I won’t impact everyone. However, if I can change one person, making them a “former or reformed troll”, that understands that their negative comments and remarks are heartless and cruel…well, that is all right with me.
So I proudly, STAND, sharing my son and my experience on social media to educate, in hopes of changing hearts, minds, and actions.