A study showed recently that Facebook is stated as one of the reasons for 33% of divorces in the UK. That’s a third of all divorces. How unbelievable that a virtual world, invented only a few years ago, has had such an impact on how we relate to each other and has even been related to the cause of the breakdown of some marriages.
That’s not saying that Facebook is entirely to blame for all divorces, but it has certainly added to the stresses and strains of marriage and relationships and become a key contributor in the breakdown of those relationships. The social networking site offers people the opportunity to flirt openly, have inappropriate conversations, reveal personal marital problems, upset a spouse with comments on sexy pictures, the list goes on and on…
I’m sure it was easier before Facebook to cheat on your spouse without getting caught. Now there are so many ways you can slip up and get caught red handed – leaving your lap top unattended whilst logged in, comments on public pictures that come up in the news feed, even chat history is logged. It’s all there.
Back in the old days, if you were caught having an affair, it would have been a lipstick on the collar scenario or a revealing bank statement.
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It isn’t just the link between Facebook and divorce rates that bothers me. I feel it unearths an underlying social problem that is only going to worsen with time and as the influence of social networking and social media rises further. Some might say that Facebook has almost devalued friendship and romantic relationships. You can meet someone once and become friends on Facebook, even if you never see them again.
We all see the trail of relationships beginning and ending on our news feed.
So-and-so is in a relationship with whatshisname. They post photos of themselves together, tag each other in soppy statuses and then a few months later so-and-so is no longer in a relationship with whatshisname.
Cue to dozens of ‘friends’ posting consoling comments such as ‘you can do so much better!’ (charming! Given the fact that whatshisname can still read.) Over sharing your personal life and playing out your relationship in such a public way, for me, cheapens the intimacy of the relationship. Whatever happened to keeping things private behind closed doors? It used to be considered vulgar and tasteless to be so open about one’s intimate life, so when did it become the norm?
Let’s be honest, it’s also completely enabled and justified cyber stalking. It’s all too easy. Think of that girl you hated at school or your partner’s ex who makes you feel nervous, it’s simple to conduct a people search on Facebook and then indulge in hours of investigating.
If they’ve been careless with their privacy settings, a Facebook profile is like an All-You-Can-Stalk buffet. Spending hours checking out their pictures, scrolling through their likes, employment information, academic history, friendships, relationship history – isn’t this stalking? If you did this in real life, surely there would be some kind of legal consequence?
It’s fair to say that Facebook and other social networking platforms have completely transformed the way we interact with each other. While it has been very helpful in advancing important campaigns and promoting causes, it has also encouraged us to ‘share’ events in our lives instantaneously. But what real effect has it had on human relationships?
Remember the joy of meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in ages and having a good catch up, filling each other in on all the gossip and events going on in your respective lives? Well if you’re active Facebook users, that experience is a thing of the past.
You know all of each other’s gossip and news, from their online sharing. So what’s the point in meeting up at all? Why not pursue the friendship solely through the medium of Facebook? You’d probably get to ‘see’ them a lot more often.
Comments, musings and rants are very welcome below. Then maybe we can be ‘friends’ on Facebook.
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