Be Kind Online

What stops you from showing up online? 

An online presence is commonplace these days. The online environment can really help you thrive by connecting with others! 

Since starting my blog six years ago, I have talked to many people who are fearful of showing up and being seen online. Due to this fear, they either don’t put themselves out there or if they do, they do it in a way that doesn’t showcase their strengths. It takes courage to put yourself out there and be seen on a global stage; one bad occurrence may stop you completely. I can relate.

For example, while in Maui on vacation years ago, on the same beach that inspired this blog, my sisters and I were swimming on the private beach attached to our accommodations. After spending a while in the water, we returned back to our towels only to be told unfortunate news by an older couple on the beach. The couple informed us that they had witnessed a man hiding in the bushes, taking pictures of us in our bathing suits for at least half an hour. But once the couple figured out what he was doing, they yelled at him and chased him off the beach. I felt creeped out, as who knew what he was going to do with those pictures?!!! I have street smarts and was aware of my surroundings, but I didn’t even sense this happening as I was happily swimming. Even on vacation where I thought I was safe, my privacy was violated. I learned from this incident that you never know who is watching your actions, so it is important to take safety precautions. 

Did this incident stop me from permanently swimming? No. It may have though, but my love of water won over. It reminded me to take care of myself in public spaces.

Trust me, as a blogger who now shows up at a public beach platform regularly, I know how difficult it can be to be in the spotlight constantly. When I first showed up online, I was very nervous. People critique your every move. That is what stops many from showing up online at all. However, the benefits outweigh the risks.

As your lifeguard at this online beach retreat, I want to share some strategies (“Water Safety Tips,” as I call them) to keep in mind while you are swimming the online waters.

Here are my Water Safety Tips for being online:

  • Be COMFORTABLE and do what feels best for you. It’s your experience.
  • THINK before pressing “SEND”: Who will actually see your post? If it is intended for a certain audience, post it in the appropriate setting.
  • Don’t OVERSHARE! Even if you feel like you want to, don’t share every detail of your life.  Keep some things for yourself. Don’t give out too much personal information. There are A LOT of creepers online. Plus, the internet keeps everything.
  • KINDNESS matters. Be kind online. Don’t send negative or hurtful messages about others online.
  • RESPECT the privacy of others online: don’t mention their entire name, recognizable details, photos, or stories on your site without their permission.
  • PROTECT yourself. Don’t give out your usernames and passwords to anyone.

You are WISE. Learn from my experiences and be safe online. Don’t let your fear of what may happen prevent you from getting in the water.

So, let’s all show up at the beach – to feel the sand in our feet, the wind in our hair, and the sun on our skin; to hear the waves lapping at the shore; and to ‘get in the water’ to swim in the currents of life with new-found strength and self-knowledge.

We all must play our part in creating a kind, inclusive online community where we can thrive! Will you join me and #bekindonline? See you at the beach!