Last month I began relaying some of the preliminary results from my ongoing survey of Social Media and Technology in Open Adoption Communication. Despite its benefits there are also challenges in using social media as a communication tool in your open adoption. Not only were similar drawbacks were reported from all parts of the constellation (although they were expressed a bit differently depending on a person’s role), but the challenges reported were also very reminiscent of the benefits.
While easy access was one reason open adoption participants said they used social media and technology, lack of access was among the most frequently listed challenges. For some this was about infrequent access to any social media/technology and for others it was not having access to a specific platform or even being thwarted by a spotty connection mid-contact.
Instant doesn’t always mean instant response.
– Anonymous Survey Respondent
Many people loved being able to take their time to read their texts, emails, or messages at their convenience however, waiting for a response was hard for a lot of people. This wait is especially hard for those who reported being able to see that the person they were waiting for was online, for instance possibly playing games on Facebook or retweeting random quotes. Tied into this waiting was feeling like social media communication is less important than other forms of communication.
Boundaries and Privacy:
Being able to control your own privacy settings is one thing, but not knowing who can see your communication based on their connection with the other party was unsettling to many, and some reported self-censoring because of it. Similarly, some were concerned about the ability for others to save and share pictures with those beyond the group for which they were originally intended. On the other side of boundary coin are those who are learning more than they bargained for about other parties by seeing status updates, pictures, or conversations that are not open adoption related and not on a topic they care to know about.
Not surprisingly, the most frequently reported challenge was the limit of the written word. Even in spoken communication words are a small part of conveying a message. Tone, body language, volume, facial expressions, etc., all combine with your words to communicate your intentions. In social media your message relies purely on your words (and maybe an emoticon or two); this increases the chance of a misunderstanding.
Have you come up against these or other social media challenges in your open adoption? How have you handled them?
About the author:
Kat Cooley, MSW is a social worker providing comprehensive all options counseling to those experiencing unplanned pregnancy. She is also a birth mom over a decade into an open adoption. She writes here at Open Adoption Bloggers on the first and third Monday of the month and is always open to suggestions for topics; you can leave them in the comments, at the OAB Facebook page, or tweet her @KMCooleyMSW.