Social Media

 

 

Social media usage has risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2018, Pew Research stated that 68% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook. * A lower percentage of adult Americans use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat than Facebook. However, none of the platforms dips below 20% and the total numbers are quite significant although even considering overlap of usage between apps.

 

The reason for the rise in social media usage is a combination of general industry growth, desire to connect, business demands, and a desire for attention. The industry has grown as new platforms evolved – each with its own focus and its own attraction to various age groups and types of businesses.

 

Desire To Connect

 

The initial boom in social media – and what keeps it going – is the desire for people to connect. Although you can know what is happening around the world almost instantaneously, people are not as connected to those around them as they were 100 or even 50 years ago. Thus, people turn to social media to (re-)connect with their family and friends that are often spread around the world.

 

People also join groups of like-minded people to discuss issues that are relevant to them, such as, parenting, hiking, or genealogy. Thus, people connect with new people and often receive support for the challenges that they are facing in life.

 

Business

 

As these platforms have grown, businesses have turned to them as a way to connect to their clients. They utilize these platforms for advertising, event announcements, and client engagement. They have replaced some of the traditional marketing methods and are especially important in the coveted 18-49 market, as they are the highest users of social media. It has also allowed businesses to expand their client base in new ways.

 

Desire For Attention

 

For some people, however, the use of social media isn’t really to connect with anyone. It is simply to draw attention to themselves. They use it to dramatize their life or a life that they choose to portray. Often, they play on people’s emotions, gaining attention from people they don’t even know. One must assume that they are starved for attention in real life. Thus, they create a more exciting or dramatic life online by making sure that people notice them. As a result, they gain the attention that they desire.

 

Cause Disruption

 

Some of these attention seekers take it a step further. They purposefully attempt to anger people and create arguments. These trolls never provide real facts and are quick to make highly judgmental statements. If those don’t create enough rage, they will turn to name calling and personal attacks. These trolls gain attention for themselves, but the joy they get is in seeing other people angry. Nothing makes them go away quicker than a calm, logical response where you completely ignore their inflammatory statements.

 

As you can see, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects of social media. It is important to prop up the good. The rest is something that we all have to work together to overcome. Thus, the next time you see an inflammatory statement or post consider what is going to create a positive outcome. If we could make everything on social media positive for even one day, it could change the world!

 

 

*https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

 

found now what

 

In the previous article “The Search,” I discussed the roller coaster ride of searching for birth parents. In this article that concludes the 3-part series, I will discuss connecting to birth families and the associated emotions.

 

Emotions All Around

 

When a person finally identifies their birth parent, they can be overcome with emotion. Emotions range from excitement to guilt to fear. Thus, taking that step to contact the birth parent (or even a half/full sibling) can be overwhelming.

 

It is impossible to know how the birth parent is going to react. Thoughts that people often have when contacting birth parents include: Will they accept me or reject me? Does their spouse/kids know about me? Are they a good person? What if they aren’t a good person? And, in the case of fathers . . . Does he even know about me?

 

All of these thoughts and concerns are valid. Some birth parents welcome their long lost children with open arms. These are the stories that keep people searching. The mother (and in some cases the father, too) that tells the person that they have been thinking about them every day and hoping they would find them often lead to amazing connections.

 

When Things Don’t Go Well

 

Other birth parents are not nearly as welcoming. They would like their “secret” to stay “secret.” In some of these cases there are extenuating circumstances and painful memories involved. Therefore, it is understandable. However, it is no easier on the person who is searching for their birth parent.

 

In many cases, however, these people have some image that they are trying to protect and have not told their spouse or children about the other child. In the worst of these cases, the biological parent threatens legal action against the person if they contact them or other family members. Although legal action may not be possible, clearly connections with the family are going to be limited.

 

In other cases, the people are simply being cautious. They are fearful of people taking advantage of them. Alternately, they are trying to protect their estate for their family.

 

Some of these people will come around. Other times, the parent’s other children are willing to build a relationship despite the parent’s concerns. However, these relationships are not the same as being fully included in the family.

 

Clueless

 

Of course, there are those that have no idea what the person is talking about. It is understandable for fathers that never knew about the pregnancy. However, it also includes mothers that claim to have zero memory of having a child. It also includes mothers and fathers that don’t claim to know each other despite what the DNA says.

 

In some of the cases, the parents stick to the story that the DNA is lying. It is hard to connect with them when they won’t acknowledge that you could even be their child. However, some of these cases, particularly fathers that never knew they fathered a child, eventually lead to strong connections.

 

Emotional Roller Coaster

 

Even when the birth parent(s) is found and starts to build a connection, the person should continue to expect a roller coaster of emotions. Some people report that they connect immediately. Meanwhile, others have a complete distaste for the biological parent. Even those that connect immediately and have a growing relationship often find that things don’t go as well after the honeymoon period.

 

Family drama is another emotional challenge for adoptees. It is rare to find a family without some drama and if there have been secrets, there is bound to be more!

 

Family connections are always interesting, especially when one or more people that are not their biological parents have raised a person.

 

the search

 

 

In the previous article “Family Connections,” I discussed some of the reactions when people learn that one or both of the parents that raised them are not their biological parent. In this article, I explore the connections and feelings that often arise during the search for a person’s birth parents.

 

Now, rare cases exist where the person takes a DNA test and immediately finds their birth family, everyone loves each other, and they live happily ever after. However, that isn’t the norm.

 

Expectations

 

A person shouldn’t expect anything other than a rollercoaster ride when looking for a birth parent.  Emotions will go high when the person sees a DNA match. Then, they will fall through the floor when the match does not respond to messages or hides all their information. This process may repeat several times.

 

Likewise, the person searching may contact a DNA match, who puts them in contact with other family members. Just when they start building a strong connection, someone else does a DNA test and it blows a hole in the theory of who the birth parent is. Now, they are left dangling.   They feel connected, but they aren’t connected the way that they think they are. In some cases, they may not be connected at all.

 

News of a mis-connection can be almost as emotional as learning that one or both of your parents are not your biological parents. This is especially true in cases where the new connections were supportive and welcoming, while the parents that raised the person are deceased or the relationship with them is strained.

 

The Process

 

The process can be lengthy and the result is not guaranteed.   It is very easy for people to become too excited, which often scares off DNA matches. It is equally as easy for people to become frustrated, lose interest, and just give up.

 

The best possible approach is a slow, steady approach where the person makes lots of connections. This allows emotions to be more even while allowing the person to build relationships with people that are related, if only distantly. Building connections with these people helps the person learn information that is useful in solving their parentage puzzle. Possibly, more importantly, these connections help the person to feel connected to family.

 

The final article in this series “Found, Now What?” will discuss the ability to connect with birth families and the associated emotions.

 

family connections

 

 

As a genealogist, I have become involved in helping people find their birth parents. It is always an interesting journey and although there are various common scenarios, each journey is unique.

 

The Reactions

 

Some people who have found out that one or both of their parents aren’t who they thought they were express no interest in identifying and meeting their biological parents. These people usually feel a strong connection with the parents that raised them. Often their perspective is that there is no need to find out who their biological parents are given that they will always consider the parents that raised them as mom and dad.

 

Other people report always feeling like they were adopted or never believing that their dad was their biological father. These people are not at all surprised when a DNA test reveals that their intuition was correct. Many of them report feeling disconnected or like something was missing in the relationship.

 

Other people fit somewhere in between these two perspectives. Some are surprised, but embrace the possibility of connecting with more family. These people still view their parents as their parents, but are open to learning more about themselves and their roots. Some people that fall into this category are people who grew up as only children. They are excited at the prospect of finding siblings.

 

Another reaction is to feel lost and/or angry. In these cases, people feel as if they no longer know who they are. For these people, learning that one or both parents who raised them are not their biological parents is devastating. It can take time and professional counseling to get through this very personal crisis.

 

Connected?

 

To me, it appears that some people sense the lack of connection all their lives. But, others want what is comfortable or desire a connection with the parents that raised them so much that they fear knowing about their biological parents. Yet others are comfortable with any and all connections. It is a very personal situation and is unique to that person.

 

If you are going through this, know that although your situation is unique, most likely there is someone out there that has been through something similar. Seek counseling if you are struggling. Also, know that there are groups of people that can help you find your birth parents if you so desire.

 

The next article in this series “The Search,” will dive into expectations when searching for your family.

 

In today’s world, people take for granted the ability to be connected. People are connected to the world via the Internet, phones, television, and more. Yet, people are more disconnected from others than ever before.

 

Connected, but Unconnected

 

In the world of connection, people have lost sight of what it really means to connect in a meaningful way. They can text a cute remark and an “LOL.” However, how often do people actually have meaningful conversation?

 

I have often witnessed friends or families sitting or standing around with everyone glued to their phones or other electronic devices. They may be connected to something or someone at a distance, but they are missing out on making real connections with the people who are right in front of them.

 

Electronics can help maintain connections with friends and loved ones who may be spread around the world. I am very grateful for technology that allows me to check in with family members regularly. This technology has helped me worry less when my son was in Iraq, when my boys have been on the road, and when family members have been hospitalized.

 

True Human Interaction

 

That said, no electronic device, video game, Facebook friend, or chat room replaces true human interaction. True human connection requires connection that cannot be replaced with a satellite signal. Even video communications are lacking the true human element. Thus, electronic communications can be used to support real human relationships when circumstances warrant it. However, care must be taken not to replace human interactions with electronic interactions.

 

To create and maintain true human interactions, have dinner with someone and don’t look at your phone or the TV during dinner. Have meaningful conversation instead. Find something new you have in common or just listen to what the other person wants to share.

 

Another thing to try for friends at a distance is writing a heartfelt letter. Talk to them like they were with you and tell them about your life. If you really want it to be meaningful, write it by hand instead of typing. They will know you took time to care about them.

 

You can even connect with the shopkeeper or a vendor at a farmer’s market. All it takes is putting down your phone, pausing for a moment, smiling, and saying a few words more than “I will take that.”

 

A Million Ways

 

There are millions of other ways to create real connections with other people. None of them include being so attached to your electronic devices that you ignore the people around you.

 

Try to connect with someone every day. And, don’t forget to connect with yourself!

 

 

 

 

It is common to hear people say how important it is to let negative emotions go. But, most people are challenged to actually make it happen. They believe in the concept, but making it a reality is lots of work and requires a lot of determination and self-love.

 

Besides being generally happier, letting go of toxic relationships and emotions is good for a person’s long-term physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Yet, people often harbor negative emotions regarding a person, company, or situation for days, weeks, months, and even years. If not released, negativity accumulates and strengthens. It can affect a person in many different ways including manifesting as physical ailments.

 

Now, what if you have harbored negative feelings about a person for years and you find that you are genetically related to that person? Learning of this connection can be devastating to people.

 

Consider the situation where there was a friend of the family that you just couldn’t stand being around when you were growing up. You couldn’t put your finger on it, but you just felt disgust toward this man. Over the years, you could never manage to let it go. Later, you find out that he was once your mother’s boyfriend and he is indeed your birth father instead of the man you call Dad.   Learning your birth father isn’t the person you thought is crushing. However, it is even more difficult when you find that your real birth father is someone you harbor negative feelings towards.

 

Alternately, you could have had a rough breakup. You haven’t been able to have a good relationship since the breakup. You can’t get over the pain of the relationship. The mere thought of your ex still makes your gut churn. Then, one day, you are doing genealogy and discover that your ex is actually a distant cousin. It is like a two by four just hit you, deepening your wound. Not only did this person leave you wounded, they are also related to you.

 

Perhaps even worse would be the discovery that you are genetically related to someone you have not forgiven for physical or mental harm they did to someone you love. You may have spent years being angry at this person for a serious crime like assault, rape, or murder. To find you are related to them feels as if your soul is being ripped out.

 

Learning of these connections can be challenging in the best of circumstances. However, being in a good place emotionally can definitely make the news of the connection easier. A new connection may never be uncovered between you and someone you harbor negative feelings towards. However, if it is, being in a good place emotionally is essential.

 

We all know that we need to get rid of the negativity in our lives and this is just one more reason to do it. If you think it can’t happen to you, you might be surprised. These examples are generalizations based on real situations that have happened.

 

While you are clearing out this negativity, give yourself permission to release the negativity you have toward people who you already know are your genetic connections. If you have anger toward your siblings, parent, or others, know that holding onto it serves no purpose.

 

Remember, you are all related. For instance, if you are angry at your mother, consider that she not only gave you life, but you also share about 50% of your DNA with her (yeah I know, you didn’t get THAT DNA). Therefore, being angry with your mother is a bit like being angry at part of yourself. That should make you want to release the anger; however, many people spend lots of time being angry with themselves.

 

If you find yourself having negative feelings toward yourself, start by releasing those feelings. Nothing can be more impacting to you than positive or negative feelings toward yourself. Know that you do not have to hold onto negative feelings.  With work, they can be replaced with feelings of love and kindness.

 

Once you conquer the challenge of releasing negativity toward yourself, branch out to your family, friends, and even those who have wronged you. Although you may never uncover an unknown genetic connection, letting go of the negativity ensures that such a discovery would be easier to handle.

 

No matter your situation, letting go of negative emotions will have a positive impact on your life. Releasing negativity is healthy and it allows you to move forward with your life.

 

So, stay positive! You never know where it will lead in life.