I feel like over the past week I've taken a tiny step away from social media. I love blogging, I love connecting with other instagramers and I love the community that I've built. But I feel like I need to build a better foundation for my community. I feel like I've trusted some people that are unsafe for me and my family and I need to reassess to make sure that the people I am trusting online are people that are safe for my son and myself. About a week ago I had to have the police over to file a report on a local IG'er. I wont get into details, but the officers confirmed I had enough evidence to file a report and eventually a restraining order if she doesn't stop contacting me. The process of speaking to my husband about upgrading our security for our home over social media left me a little shaken. It left me wondering who is trustworthy and who is portraying who they really are online.
Social media has been a wonderful outlet for over ten years. I've been able to meet some of my very best friends online. Recently I am seeing that it is also a very scary place. It can be a place where people can pretend to be people they are not and try to get information to hurt you or your family. Instead of being my naive self and trusting everyone I am taking a step back. I love making new connections, meeting new friends but my priority is now making sure they are people that I can trust and be able to introduce my son into their lives. Judah is my son and his safety out weighs anything in this world.
Here are some basic steps I use in trusting someone for a meet up.
+ have I followed this person on IG, twitter or read their blog for a long period of time to see consistency in their life, character or behavior.
+ do we have mutual friends? do I respect the trustworthiness of our mutual friends.
+ is the person trying to push a meet up? asking constantly to meet Judah and myself with out trying to build an online friendship first.
+ is the person trying to meet at my home or a public place (when people push to meet at my home this sets off red flags for me)
+ does the person get angry if I do not follow them back on social media
Here is the deal, its not a popularity contest, when I mentally check through these boxes I am doing so with my son in mind. For example the people I have met up with in the past, I've follow them on their blog, IG or twitter for a long period of time. I've seen that their behavior matches up to what they are portraying online. I believe you can only keep things hidden in the dark for so long and if I have been reading your blog for lets say the past year I'm sure I would see some sort of red flag if something wasn't right. I also check to see if we have mutual friends. If I have enough friends who have passed my internal online friendship trusting radar who trust you, then chances are I would probably become friends with you as well. If someone keeps trying to push for a meet up when I have pushed back a few times, this sets off a signal that this person isn't safe for me to meet up with. I just can't meet up with random people that I don't know. Its not safe. I will not meet people I don't know at my home, that's a given. When I became friends with Kendra we hung out in public several times before I invited her over. We were online friends for awhile before we met in a public place. After a few meet ups we realized we lived a few miles from each other and before you know it we are having play dates at each others home and attending our children's birthday parties. Our friendship started out gradually and it felt safe. If someone gets angry because I don't follow them back on social media this makes me question what else could they get angry over if we are "in real life friends". Since I have a traumatic childhood, people who get angry over little things set off red flags letting me know they are unsafe and I typically cease all contact with that person. If I am able to over time to see that the person has a good character reference, mutual friends, doesn't push me to meet up and I see them treating others with love and respect then I will probably follow them back and build a friendship with them. But unlike the forced relationships formed on The Bachelor, I need time to form "in real life" friendships. Like I said before, my sons safety is first and if I am able to introduce an online friend to my son who have passed my internal online friendship guidelines then I am more than willing to meet up in real life.
Also I trust my gut instinct. If anything feels off then I walk away.
I would like to know if you have any "internal guidelines" for meeting up new mama friends.