In our highly publicized world of social media, there has emerged a great casualty: Love. We’ve all seen breakups go bad over social media. Between the revenge posts and stalking ex’s profiles, social media can be an unhealthy place for a recently split up couple. Social media is not only a cause of post break-up trauma, however. It has now begun to become a cause of the breakup. I have first hand experienced this phenomenon. At the root of my trouble: one innocent untagged Facebook photo.
To start, the simply using social media excessively can be bad for many aspects of a person’s life. One of our fellow classmates cited a massive grade disparity between social media users and those without online accounts. Students without online accounts averaged a substantially more favorable GPA. Similarly, the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Media recently found that people who use Facebook for more than one hour a day are more likely to encounter Facebook related conflict with their partners. While this seems obvious that someone who uses Facebook more is more likely to have any kind of Facebook related problem, it does at least show that social media contributes at least another reason for a break-up. The Journal cited consequences to social media such as misunderstandings and jealousy. The study also cited the ability to reconnect with past partners as a source of cheating and instability in one’s current relationship.
Now, this is all fine when the relationships are young and inconsequential, but studies have begun to discover that social media is playing a part in divorce as well. In 2012 Divorce-Online UK embarked on a qualitative study which concluded that one in three divorces were the result of social media related disagreements.
There is even a website dedicated to offering advice about Facebook related marriage trouble, facebookcheating.com. The opening image on the website reads, “Is Facebook Killing Your Marriage?” According to Alexa Rankings, almost a quarter of the traffic to this website comes from the google search “Facebook cheating signs” and another 15% from the search “cheating stories.”
In 2011, University of Austin Texas posted a study indicating that 32% of heavy social media users were considering breaking up with their spouse versus 16% for those who do not use any social media. It makes sense to me that this would be the case. The world of social media gives you – and your spouse – more options. In a world where we live longer, have more options, and can talk to anyone anywhere, relationships are going to suffer.
A number of sources have noted that social media evidence is highly permissible in court. some smart phones actually record your patterned movements and recognize places you visit often. Whenever I’m in new Jersey and hop into my car my phone will give me a notification to tell me how long the drive is to TriBeCA in New York where I worked all summer. Without necessarily realizing it is catching you cheating, these services can recognize that you frequent a certain address. This kind of evidence, in addition to text messages and any social media posts, can find their way into your spouses hands and eventually a court room.
So I’ve harped on about how destructive social media is in a relationship and the negative consequences of social media. Yes, it does appear that social media is playing a role in breakups in divorce, but is this a bad thing or does social media merely uncover the truth? Depending on the split, social media can simply be a means by which someone who was going to cheat is eventually caught. In many cases Facebook merely uncovers a problem that already existed. In other cases, Facebook might create a problem that otherwise never would have occurred. I guess in the end, we just have to take the good with the bad!