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Facebook: the New Home Wrecker?

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Ah, Facebook. The social media giant has so many uses, from finding old friends to discussing CNC machine dealers. Of course, all new technology comes with a dark side.

For a website dedicated to maintaining connections with other people, Facebook is cited as a factor in many divorces. Seems some people take the concept of social networking a little further than their spouses would like.

How Bad Could It Be?

Divorce-Online reports twenty percent of its online divorce petitions mention Facebook. Cheating spouses find social media provides ample opportunity to contact sexual partners. Suspicious spouses have used Facebook to find evidence of flirting and affairs that have lead to divorce.

Connecting with childhood sweethearts and old flames often leads to infidelity. What starts as an innocent attempt to reconnect through social media sparks old feelings and thoughts of what might have been. If a marriage is already shaky, reconnecting with an old lover can become very tempting.

Sometimes the affair doesn’t involve physically meeting. Flirtation on Facebook profiles and the website’s built-in chat feature becomes increasingly raunchy, leading to “cybersex,” or explicit sexual chat. Divorce-Online lists cybersex affairs as the most common cause of Facebook-related divorces.

Even if a divorce petition doesn’t mention Facebook, the social media site often becomes an issue during divorce proceedings. Attorneys estimate up to 80 percent of divorce cases involve evidence gathered from Facebook or other social media sites.

Say Anything

Despite a steady stream of warnings from privacy advocates, people still seem to think that they can post anything on social media without any consequences. Flirting, overt sexual proposals and dirty pictures lurk on some people’s profiles, just waiting for a suspicious spouse to stumble across them.

Ill-thought-out Facebook postings are capable of destroying more than just relationships. Employers and schools increasingly check Facebook profiles for signs of “undesirable” behavior and attitudes. Evidence of drunkenness, excessive partying and, yes, sexual permissiveness in a profile can ruin a person’s career.

Responds to Online Cheating

Cheating spouses may create new profiles under fake names, but this doesn’t always protect them from suspicious spouses. A thriving cottage industry of anti-infidelity software programs exists, allowing people to track their spouse’s online activity.

Often, however, such software is unnecessary. Postings and comments by mutual friends may alert a spouse to online infidelity. In other cases, spouses deliberately used Facebook posts to hurt their partners. In one particularly nasty case a woman only found out her marriage was over when her husband updated his relationship status.

The problem has become serious enough that victims of online adultery have begun online support groups. It needs to be remembered, however, that social media itself is not to blame for online infidelity. Like telephones, cars, and CNC used machines, social media is a tool. How we use it determines whether Facebook is a positive or negative force in our lives.

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