Friday, September 27, 2019

Is Facebook a Safe Space for You in Adoptionland?

It used to be when I was new to Facebook, I would accept any and all friend requests. For a couple reasons.  First, 9 out of 10 friend requests come from fellow adoptees who have read my blog, saw me post in a private forum, noticed I was friends with 75 of their other adopted friends and/or they picked up an anthology I have contributed to.  

Great, I love getting to know people who I can converse with on the issues I care about and who have something to add to the conversation. 

Second, adoptees as a group are sensitive to rejection and I didn’t want to trigger any rejection in someone by denying their friend request.  

I am an INFP empath so that makes me naturally sensitive to other people’s feelings right out of the gate and then add adoptee issues on top of that . . . I get it.

This was all before the current political climate of us versus them.  This was before the “all or nothings” in adoptee rights began bullying the “sometimes compromise is necessary” crowd.  

Then some things in Adoptionland began to change.  New pages that appeared hostile began to pop up.  Certain adoptees were targeted for hurtful campaigns and even named out loud and/or their private conversations photographed and posted (so wrong!).

Then some personal things happened.  A misunderstanding occurred, rumors spread like wildfire, and I realized that I needed much higher standards for whether I allow somebody into my private social media world (especially because my public writing is easily located and followed by anyone).

I needed a safe space.  

Because I am a born communicator, I process almost everything by speaking or writing about it.  So I post frequently. I write transparently.  I share my life with people I care about.  I have never seen that as an issue, until . . . . Rumorgate.  

Rumorgate began as a total misunderstanding and blew up into an interrogation about the personal ethics of myself and another person.   It almost broke me.  And I had to look at how and why this situation was able to transpire.

The answer was the people I was friends with on Facebook.  Several people saw an innocent post that was shared on more than one person’s wall. 

I have always been a huge fan of Facebook.  Facebook is the reason I have any platform at all in my writing.  Facebook is how I connected with almost every adoptee I have been fortunate enough to work with on multiple projects. 

Whenever somebody bashes Facebook, I am always the first to defend it.  And I don’t blame Facebook at all for Rumorgate.

It’s really about boundaries.  Sometimes having your coworkers as “friends” is a bad idea (not always, but it’s something to consider). 

If you are “friends” with a known bully who has targeted others but has been “just fine” toward you, that is a problem waiting to happen. (not to mention, you are part of the problem by not holding that person accountable . . . .delete, delete, delete . . . .block, block, block . . . . ).

Do you want to be my friend on Facebook? Then please don’t ask other people about my posts on Facebook.  Come to the source:  Me.  If I post publicly, absolutely you can share the post (in fact, you don’t even have to ask me).  

If I share something that is friends only or am discussing something with you in a private message or email, then I don’t want it shared, so don’t take a photo of it and send it to all your contacts.  Don’t pirate it to put on your Pinterest and for the love of God, please don’t start the gossip mill by asking a bunch of questions to people besides me.  

If you have a question about anything, call me or write me directly (my email is posted at my blog). 

Since Rumorgate, I have deleted about half of the former friends I have on Facebook.  I am batting down the hatches because I deserve a safe space.  

It’s definitely worth considering who you allow access to your safe space.  And if somebody is violating your safety, then it’s time to take action.

It is obviously most important to have safe spaces of close family and friends in real life who have your back. However, we have to learn how to navigate social media technologies in a way that allow us to use them for good, while mitigating the potential for abuse.

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