At NAILS, we’re all about online transparency. And by that I mean we don’t censor online comments or hide constructive criticism of our content on our websites and social media accounts. But the key phrase in that last sentence — constructive criticism — isn’t usually what I’m dealing with. And so I’m left with the question of whether or not I should delete or hide the offending comment. I’m not talking about comments that create a good, honest debate of technique or best practices. I’m talking about people who have no virtual manners. What good does it do to write “this is ugly” or “ewww, gross” under someone else’s nail art? That’s not going to help them improve and it’s certainly not nice.

Our goal is for our website and our overall online presence to be a positive experience primarily for nail professionals. We represent professional nail technicians and we want to help our industry get the credit you all deserve so you can be taken seriously and viewed as the professionals that you are. We want new nail techs to feel welcome and not shy away from posting their photos and questions from fear of being taunted. We want veteran nail techs to know they can come to our site for information on the newest trends so they can keep up with the ever-evolving nail industry.

But I consistently come across comments on Facebook and Instagram that are rude and downright mean. And I’m tired of it. Here’s the sad thing: This is not a NAILS Magazine issue. And it’s not even a nail industry issue. It’s one that has grown with the anonymity of the online world. And while it’s pervasive — and often really harmful — with teens, adults can be just as cruel. With the distance of thousands of miles and the circumstances of not having to physically interact with the other party, people post things online that I’m confident they would never say to someone’s face. Manners just seem to fly right out the window as soon as someone jumps online.

Social media has allowed NAILS to engage with our industry like never before, but sometimes I feel like it’s also created more problems. We want to hear from everyone, but we don’t want to spend our day policing bad behavior. We want to be a safe place where people can share photos, ideas, and opinions. We want to nurture new talent and celebrate the success of others.

Obviously this isn’t inherent to just NAILS. Have you recently browsed through nail art pictures on Instagram? Sure, there are plenty of compliments and sweet sentiments, but more and more, I’m also seeing negative comments from other nail professionals and from consumers alike. It’s happened to my own nail art I’ve posted on my personal Instagram page. I’ve got pretty thick skin and really don’t get that offended. So what if somebody doesn’t like my style. I just don’t understand what they get out of writing “ugly” on someone else’s photo. Bottom line: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But that shouldn’t mean it’s OK to come out swinging online.

We can’t change the world. But we can at least start with ourselves. I urge you to think twice the next time you press send and ask yourself if this is something you would say to the person face-to-face. Let’s try to create a positive environment where we’re lifting people up instead of pushing them down. And no matter what, if someone says something nasty to you, don’t engage. I think the saying goes, “Don’t feed the trolls,” and that’s a pretty good motto to adopt. Let’s all mind our (virtual) manners.

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