Honest Mum

The Good and The Bad Side of Social Media

Honest Mum

I’m a blogger. My life is my blog, and in many respects, my blog is my life.

It’s hard to distinguish between the two at times as they’re so indelibly linked.

I love what I do and I feel grateful that I live in a time where technology allows me to create, write and make moving images for a living.

My job is public-facing (the internet has power, people) with posts and campaigns I’m part of, reaching millions every month.

I flicked onto the Telegraph website on the weekend to read an opinion piece, and a campaign I’m part of and my face, flashed up as an ad at the bottom of it.

I’ll give you some more context as realise not everyone knows what professional blogging entails.

My reach last month, counting viral posts and campaigns I was part of with media coverage, reached over 30 million. That’s a heck of a lot people. Facebook Lives I shoot often reach 150k in five minutes (thanks FB for organically promoting me) and a lot of what I do, particularly high-profile campaigns are covered in the media: magazines and online content as well as speaking engagements (I spoke about my career at the Marie Claire Future Shapers event the other week)..I understand that my work is visible, that I’m the face of my personal brand and that I’m someone others relate to.

I want to do good and spread positivity with that influence.

I’ll be 100% honest here and state that feels nuts when people stop me on the street to say they read my blog or follow me on twitter, but I’m getting used it to, as are my family-we were even recognised in Portugal (it’s lovely meeting readers and it’s only ever been positive, so far) and some days might see me being stopped multiple times (my friends find this hilarious by the way and have nicknamed me Mariah)!

I don’t consider myself famous.

I’m not.

I’m a blogger who has written an online platform for almost 7 years which I’m told has become one of the biggest blogs, worldwide. Google loves me (thankfully). And a lot of you guys do too apparently. Thank you, truly (blows kissing emoji)!

Anyway, I never think of any of that when I write, it would freak me out, if I did and probably have me second-guessing every word. I write like one person is reading, my Mum. My first and most loyal reader.

Plus, my mission is the same now, as it’s always been. To process my life through the written word, to share the tough parts along with the good so others don’t have to feel as alone as I once did, as a broken new mother, struggling without social media for support.

I cannot forget that treacherous time. I felt it again last summer dealing with the illness of a close relative, that dark cloud submerging me, seeping into my daily life and eroding my happiness. It lasted for 3 weeks rather than the post-natal 10 months this time and seeing a therapist made for a speedy recovery.

The darkness has made me adamant to spread light. I want to help anyone experiencing self-doubt, anxiety and trauma too. I want to use this blog for good.

I want to support and encourage others to feel more confident (and help myself in the process when I’m lacking it). I promote healthy body image, the importance of self-care and I love to share what I know, my business acumen and what has worked for me in the digital space so others can create flexible careers for themselves. I am touched by all the emails from others saying my blog has inspired them to change careers and make blogging and vlogging their business. Many bring me to tears.

My book #Mumboss will be a guide to surviving and thriving at work and at home and is out in March 2018 (published by Piatkus).

Whenever I doubt myself or feel overwhelmed, and frankly, not enough, I return to my mission statement, my purpose: to support other women (and men). It’s always been there. I was a teacher and university lecturer in between my filmmaking career prior to blogging full time, and I find nurturing and supporting others the most rewarding aspect of any of my work to date.

My Mum, a former uni lecturer herself, likes to tell me, I’m a born leader. I hope so. I hope more women feel they can step up and lead by example. My role models are the women in my own life who do just that, good friends Jessica Huie MBE and Natasha Courtenay-Smith are just two women who endlessly inspire me, and of course my heroes Shonda Rhymes, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah, Tina Fey and Marie Forleo who trail-blaze fearlessly every day. I also love the much-needed voice of my pal, the writer and model Lottie Geraghty of The Lucky Leo who recently wrote about her relationship with social media: ‘High on Likes‘. Social media can be a means for destruction and tear down as much as it can build up.

We need and crave role models (I rarely saw any who looked like me in the media growing up), we need women who are forging ahead, breaking ground and smashing glass ceilings, to show us we can too.

We need to learn from, and be guided by, them.

There is such positivity at our fingertips, (literally) but with that accessibility thanks to the democracy of the internet, of course, comes negativity. The yin with the yang.

On or offline, there will always be darkness, and that’s the thing about being public-facing (writing and sharing anything with the outside world and not some safe vacuum where no one interacts with you), you’re left vulnerable and susceptible to targeting, trolling and opinions that might well hurt you.

Whilst I feel more prepared for negativity when it comes to YouTube or featuring in the Daily Mail, both cat nip for the trolls it seems, harsh words can feel like they’ve come out of nowhere on my FB page or Twitter. There, negative commentary in what feels like ‘safe spaces’ to me, can feel more cutting, somehow. They’re more unexpected and take me unawares (perhaps that’s naive of me but it’s how it feels).

I’m a pretty strong girl with a loving husband, folks and kids…I have great friends, many I’ve known all of my life and I’m a grounded and grateful individual, that’s how I roll..Yes as a blogger and vlogger, a certain amount of ego is required to do either, a confidence and will to perform if you like. I was the kid aged four doing Margaret Thatcher impressions at parties. I was desperate to go to Drama School as a teen but my parents steered me away and packed me off to uni. I don’t regret it at all (Goldsmiths, University of London was the making of me) and the jazz hands within escaped through directing actors on set and now feel free in my work as a blogger and vlogger. I’m not acting though, I’m myself in my own real life digital narrative.

Reflecting on my filmmaking career, as one of only 7% of female directors, it took steely determination and great strength to thrive in that industry. It also does today, in the digital field.

That doesn’t mean I’m not sensitive. That’s the immovable characteristic to being creative. Of feeling. Of being ‘an empath’, a vessel for communication and an artist. Sounds grandiose yet it’s simply factual.

Practising confidence definitely harnesses confidence. That much I know. Most days, I feel able and strong. Some though, less so.

There have been many dark days over the last two years mostly due to my sick relative who has been in and out of hospital. That deep trauma has felt like dim muzak being played like a film score behind everything we do as a family. It’s felt paralysing sad at times. It so often shields the light on the good times, and exacerbates the bad.

To see someone you love, unwell, is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced and this is the second time I’m witnessing and living through it, once aged 13, and now at 36.

When you’re in the midst of sorrow, everything can feel heightened and far more severe.

That includes trolling.

I can count the number of trolls (bar the Daily Mail) I’ve experienced on one hand, and in 6 1/2 years of blogging I realise I’m ‘lucky’ on that front.

I’ve been told my kids are ugly, my arms are horrible (soon after my son was born), and most recently that I look fat in the dress above.

Comments, some like the latter, might have been well intended as that person went on to say (!)-being cruel to be kind although I’ve never get behind that sentiment-whilst others were simply shared to rile and hurt. To stop me in my tracks.

Yes, I’ve had jealous bile written about me by a few fellow bloggers, some I thought were my friends at one time too, which hurt at first, but were quickly overcome because they were based on untruths.

The same goes for these random comments. They sting at first, but with time you find yourself becoming more immune to them.

It makes me sad to acknowledge that those daggers thrown, end up creating armour to protect you from more.

Talking about them and your feelings is vital. To cry and process in order to rebuild.

The fat comment didn’t hurt me hugely, it baffled me more than anything because whilst I have a mumtum 4 years on, and wish my arms were slimmer (always have) I feel OK about my body. I respect it. It gave life to my children. My world. The bardot dress you see here is a UK size 6 too, hardly big by any means (I’m usually a 10), and the reason for sharing it in the first place was to highlight the inconsistency of sizing at the store. In a small haul there, I’d bought a size 6, 8 and 12 in one shop-different styles, different sizes.

That lady’s comment on FB was unnecessary and unkind whatever her intention. There are more considerate ways to tell someone they don’t think a dress is flattering. In fact, we have a duty to think before we write and should always refrain from derogative terms like ‘fat’ in the first place.

I love the frock regardless and won’t not wear it because someone disproves.

Topshop themselves even asked to share it on Instagram.

The thing that got me though was if I’d read that comment whilst struggling with a traumatic birth, or in my more impressionable teens, I wouldn’t have taken it so well. It would have devastated me. What if I had body dysmorphia or an eating disorder? I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with food and my body to varying degrees over the years, this could have started that negative cycle once more…

We are all sharing in a public world, bloggers or not and these editorial opinions will not stop.

I welcome debate, yes, but b**chiness, no.

There’s a difference.

In the face of negativity, the key is to remind yourself of who you are, what you think yourself (question your own opinion and what you thought before you received this comment) and your own moral compass, cementing yourself in your own truth and integrity.

Surround yourself with those you trust who can be honest with you but have your best interests at heart.

I’m careful about my inner circle. Never more so, truth be told.

I’m the girl who wants to be everyone’s best friend and whilst I’ll always be open to others, I’ve learnt a lot of hard lessons since becoming a blogger and a 30 something for that matter. Not everyone wants the best for you, troll or not.

Either way, we mustn’t let that stop us. Negativity will not win. I’m testament to that.

I’m still me and whether the ENTIRE world likes it or not, I like myself.

There’s something we don’t witness enough in the (social) media world and need far more of. Self-worth and love.

I hope you feel it and will spread it, too.


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The Good and The Bad Side of Social Media

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