Erin and Ben Napier Came Up with a Brilliant Way to Deal with Online Bullies
“We have a lot more in common than we think.”
In the final moments before welcoming daughter Helen into the world, Home Town’s Erin Napier was busy thinking of ways to make the world a kinder place.
Earlier this week, Erin, a self-described “extreme introvert” took to Instagram with a new idea for combatting online bullying—an issue she and her co-host husband Ben have been forced to deal with since their show debuted on HGTV last year.
In a lengthy caption written alongside a short clip of Ben, Erin proposed a bold real-world approach for confronting internet bullies: approaching them in person, no matter how awkward it gets.
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“I've been thinking about resolutions this year and the way social media has become such a hugely positive part of the way we communicate as friends and families and communities but then I also think about the downside of it all,” the post begins. “The false sense of anonymity it gives people who want to bully or harass or stir up cruelty, those keyboard cowboys and girls who enjoy creating tumult, thinking online is not the real world and no one will call them on it.
She says that’s when an idea came to her. What if all 105,000 of her followers agreed to start “real, kind, grown-up discussions” with these keyboard cowboys in real life? Perhaps, she mused, it would make them “think twice when they're caught awkwardly in public,” and understand they're “really not so safe or anonymous being cruel on social.”
Erin revealed that Ben attempted this recently, and it “made a world of difference in that person's attitude—they saw eye to eye, and everyone was humanized by it.”
She concluded: “I have a feeling if we all start gently calling them on it in real life in 2018, on the sidewalk, in the coffee shop, even if it's uncomfortable, our corners of the world might improve once we see that online cruelty isn't brave or victimless at all and we have a lot more in common than we think.”