Erin Napier is using her social media platform to take a stand against online bullies.
The star of HGTV’s Home Town, 34, is often active on Instagram, sharing snapshots of her life with her husband and co-star Ben Napier, 36, and their two-year-old daughter, Helen, in their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. But in a recent post, she shared that while she began using Instagram as a way to document sweet memories and connect with fans, the criticism she’s received from online trolls has begun to weigh on her.
She posted a photo of a dim lamp in front of a curtained window, captioning it with a message to supporters and would-be bullies alike: Her page isn’t a place to “be mean and critical” and those that feel so inclined, “feel free to tap that unfollow button.”
“Instagram is my cozy place,” she wrote. “A photo journal of the moments I don’t mind sharing because maybe it will make someone feel like there are other people like them in the world, or maybe it will give you courage to be distinctly YOU in a world that values perfection over personal. It’s a place to show our work, or sometimes it’s just because I want to remember a moment and this is a simple and concise way to catalog moments.”
She then made very clear what she believes is wrong with social media today, and what needs to be done to make it a safe place for all.
“What this isn’t: a place for people I don’t know to come and air their grievances (this isn’t Festivus) or be mean or critical,” she wrote. “If you are thinking to yourself ‘well it feels good to say my piece, warts and all!’ go ahead and tap that unfollow button.”
She then shared that she has no problem with blocking those who make her feel less than, and that no one should be afraid to do the same.
“People who feel that way have nothing in common with me and you’re not going to fit in here,” she wrote. “I get to say who participates in what I share and if someone is cruel or critical, I block them. I guard my heart. I recommend you do the same, so we clean up this cozy photo journal we’re all trying to enjoy.”
This isn’t the first time Erin has made a plea for online bullies to be kind. In January 2018, the star similarly took to Instagram to make clear that she is a “real life human who is on TV and still sees what folks write on social.”
Though she remarked that social media has, for the most part, been a “hugely positive” way to connect with fans, friends and family, the “downside” is a major one. It’s “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,” wrote the TV decorator.
“What if when we bump into those keyboard cowboys in the real world, we started a REAL, kind, grown up discussion about the things they were so ‘brave’ to say online,” wrote the sassy Southern belle, adding that she hopes to “make them think twice when they’re caught awkwardly in public about it, to make them understand they’re really not so safe or anonymous being cruel on social.”
Erin and Ben found fame on HGTV with their own series Home Town, in which they’re restoring the small town of Laurel one historic building at a time, and will soon host a new show on the network: Home Town Takeover.
That series, launching in 2021, will see the designer-contractor couple apply that same makeover magic to another lucky locale. The six-episode event series will follow the couple as they take on the renovation of an entire town, from single-family homes to public parks and everything in between. In January, HGTV put out a call to find the town that would be the star of the show.
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