I got my first cell phone nine years ago. I was 30 years old and a first-time hopeful adoptive parent. I wanted to be available, and I wanted to feel “safe” in the travels that I knew were in my future. It was a marvel! I could call and be called anytime, anywhere. At the time I didn’t even consider texting and knew nothing about social media.
I created my first profile on social media a couple years later. My husband was quite apprehensive about this new fad, Facebook, and in an effort to appease him I spent only about 20 minutes a day on the website, at night while he showered! I look back at those times, which were not so long ago, and chuckle at our absurdity! He is now significantly more comfortable with my presence on social media, and I must admit I spend more than 20 minutes a day perusing!
Social media has been fantastic! I have connected with old friends, stayed in touch with family living far away, and increased communication with friends, family, and neighbors. I have also found communities on Facebook comprised of people who love/believe/desire/possess the same things I do. These communities have been a great blessing to me, and I’d like to think that at some point in the last five or so years I have benefitted an online friend in some way.
I believe that social media has done fantastic things for adoption. It was wonderful to be able to inform friends and family of our desire to adopt and share bits and pieces of our adoption stories with them. They could in turn share our desires with their friends. We have been able to share important events and give a more real-time feel to adoption. It has increased awareness, generated positive conversations, and improved the overall outlook of adoption amongst our family and friends. Not only have we been able to share, but I have greatly enjoyed sharing in the happiness of others. I love to hear happy news, and feel anxious with friends and acquaintances as they await news and milestones in their own adoption processes.
I belong to a number of online adoption groups, where at any time I can feel surrounded by “my people.” It is refreshing and comforting to know that there are others experiencing the same challenges and joys. I can feel a sense of community as I watch and participate in the family-building of those around me. It is ideally a safe place where I can ask questions, share ideas, and even seek compassion and understanding during a difficult time.
In short, social media for me has been a place to uplift and feel uplifted, to encourage and be encouraged, to share my own happy news, and celebrate the happiness of others.
There are times, however, when I find that social media is not doing those things for me! There are times when 20 minutes (ok, maybe 40) spent perusing social media leaves me feeling jealous, overwhelmed, unsure, and inadequate. I have no desire (nor am I able) to be glued to my phone and/or the computer all day. This makes me feel unable sometimes to participate in ongoing discussions offering support and advice.
At times I catch myself with the following thoughts….
“How on earth do they do it? How do they have time? “
“I am no longer a trusted voice in adoption because I don’t have a major presence on social media.”
“I don’t do enough for my child’s birth parents—look at what they did.”
“I can’t believe they would have the nerve to publish that comment.”
“It isn’t always like that . . . ”
Not a single positive thought. Nothing that uplifts or inspires. No encouragement felt, nor shared. Not good.
When this happens, I know it is time for a break. It isn’t fun or necessary to feel overwhelmed by an online community! A break for me means conscientiously spending less time with social media open on the desktop computer, and less phone time. It means it is time for a book, or a project, more time outside, or perhaps I need to give attention to a forgotten household chore. For me it means distance. I have not felt it necessary to leave completely for a period of time, but I have benefitted from limited exposure now and then. We have the ability to control what we see on social media. Whenever I feel that it is not serving the purposes I want it to serve (uplift, encourage, celebrate), then I know it is time for a diversion.
I have never regretted my decision to have a presence on social media, and I have also never regretted opportunities I have taken to take a step back, re-evaluate my time, and remember why I enjoy social media.
I hope your experiences on social media uplift, encourage and inspire!