When Confessions of the Chromosomally Enhanced started in 2010, it was a way to share photos an anecdotes with our family and friends who were spread out all over the nation. Slowly, others began stumbling upon our blog and we started receiving really heartwarming feedback about how our family's story was a source of comfort for new parents who had just received a Down syndrome diagnosis. Showcasing what a smart, competent, kind, funny, and loving young woman Leanne is offered a cool glimpse into the future for those parenting children with special needs who were unsure of what adulthood would hold.
The blog began to have a dual purpose: 1. a way for me to document memories 2. a way for us to advocate for individuals with special needs and hopefully create a more positive perception of what life with Down syndrome is really like.
Enter Instagram. For those who don't know, Instagram is a quick and easy way to upload a photo or a short (60 seconds or less) video and add a brief caption. I joke that Instagram killed the blog star (remember that song from the 80's "Video killed the radio star"?? Anyway, I date myself and digress...) because Instagram has made me all but abandon the blog. Instagram is a lot faster and easier. For the blog, I have to upload photos off of my camera and organize them by very specific filing parameters imposed by Mr. Technology (he's very laid back about everything so when something matters to him, like having an organized home network, I try and play along). I edit the photos, upload them to the blog, and then sit down and draft thoughtful posts about specific topics relevant to Down syndrome. Then, I edit said posts, wait a day or two, read it again...and then, maybe post it. This requires a lot of uninterrupted "spare time," which is an elusive concept that evades this frazzled mother of 3 on a daily basis.
With Instagram, however, I use my phone to take a photo, click on the Instagram app, add a little caption, and within 30 seconds, the memory is stored. I suspect that because I'm not the only one who struggles to find "spare time" to explore the blogosphere, Instagram has been soaring in popularity where as the blog doesn't see much action these days. That, and the technology-induced ADHD that most of us are afflicted with lends itself to glancing at a small photo and 140 character caption over wading through paragraphs and paragraphs of narrative on a blog. Am I right?!
As fun and convenient as the Internet and social media are, they are not without pitfalls. As many of you know, while our family does maintain a public profile and while we happily allow strangers to access our blog/Instagram account with the hopes that our story will help educate people about Down syndrome and shape a more welcoming and inclusive future for individuals with special needs, we try to follow basic Internet safety protocol. There's no telling who is accessing this information. I suspect the vast majority of people who stumble upon our blog and Instagram accounts are tax-paying, law-abiding, upstanding members of society. But just in case, we guard our personal information closely. We do not reveal our last name nor do we reveal where we live. And even though we live in the social media "public eye," we are private about certain aspects of our lives.
No, I will not tell you who I voted for in the presidential election.
And things have been working out pretty well for us until recently. Our Instagram account, @CatfishWithKetchup, was suddenly inundated with hundreds upon hundreds of new followers. Many of the profiles contained content of a questionable nature. I am not opposed to blocking an account if it is inappropriate, but they were coming in way too fast for me to block. I literally do not have the time to check each profile. After researching Instagram "spam," I realized that many of these accounts are designed to leave comments on my feed that are lewd or that encourage our followers to click on a link that will connect them to sketchy websites. We have young children following our Instagram feed. I am not okay with our profile being used to distribute inappropriate propaganda.
So @CatfishWithKetchup is private for the time being.
This post is designed to address the feedback I've received and to explain to those who are disappointed why this decision had to be made. For those who have requested to follow, I will approve those requests as soon as I can, but realize I have to wade through a lot of questionable profiles in the mix. Instagram was never intended to be a platform to promote and grow our "brand" or any sort of promotional tool. It's just a place where one mom is storing her memories. I'm happy to let other people access snippets of our lives if it helps make the world a more compassionate and receptive place for my children. But we're not in the business of collecting followers; especially not if that comes with a price that harms others. My foremost responsibility is to protect my children.
Your patience and understanding while we sort through these challenges is greatly appreciated.