Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When a community disappoints

Do you follow Courtney Adamo's instagram account? It's one of my favorites. I don't personally know Courtney but she is a founder of Babyccino Kids and a mother of 4 living in London. She has a completely lovely life that she captures beautifully in photos. She is one of those people that makes everything look so easy and joyful which is inspiring for a working mom like myself.

Well, her and her husband have been dealing with something troubling over the last week or so and it's been on my mind a lot. Courtney has over 40k followers on instagram. She uses instagram a lot to share her life, make recommendations, and connect with the community of women and moms that she has formed there. But recently someone has started reporting her posts for inappropriate content. This continued until finally her account was deactivated with no warning. Her supporters contacted instagram and used #bringbackcourtneybabyccino to get the issue noticed. It seemed to work since yesterday her account was brought back and it looked like the drama was thankfully over. But then Courtney said today that she is still receiving complaints and now her husband is also having his images reported and removed.

I'm upset for Courtney and her family, but I think this brings up larger issues about being a parent in the modern parenting community. Parents are one group that has really embraced technology and social media. I think it is because it's so easy to be isolated as a parent. You're busy getting through your day and taking care of yourself and your kids and your house. It's harder to get together with friends or have a phone call with family. So social media lets us connect during nap time, or after the kid is asleep, or during those few minutes we're alone in the bathroom. It's certainly been useful for me. Through instagram and blogs I've had access to a lot of parenting recommendations and useful conversations that I benefit from almost every day. There are real communities out there via the current technology and I'm glad to be a part of it.

But, when we open ourselves up to everyone it means that we are also vulnerable. Even if the majority of people who "follow" us are positive and encouraging it only takes one negative person to bring things down. That is what is happening to Courtney. Courtney shares a lot of photos of her kids. Some of them are of adorable naked little butts. Most are not. But if a nude rear does show it is in celebration of freedom and childhood. Nothing inappropriate about that to me. And if it did bother me, I would just un-follow her. But, it seems someone wants to put their standards on Courtney. They want to report her images of her children which is putting their standards on a woman I assume they don't even personally know. While it sounds like there are a number of images reported the one that really sparked this debate is at the top of this post. A picture of a toddler excited to be wearing big-girl undies. To me, I see absolutely nothing wrong with this image. It shows a glorious baby belly. It captures a sweet moment. It represents a milestone. It's a lovely thing. That someone wants to turn this into something offensive or "harmful" feels mean and aggressive. It feels like someone's personal vendetta to impose their morals on a community they aren't fully a part of.

I know it's hard for a tool like instagram to find the balance between being an open tool that can survive on it's own energy, and putting guidelines in place. I'm sure it works 99% of the time. But this time instagram is failing. Instragram allowed a community to flourish but is now letting one person take down that community. I hope instagram will take a look at this incident and use it to help them make their processes better. Until then, I'm routing for Courtney and her family! Save the belly!

Image via (though it has since been taken down again).

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