Facebook: Does It Connect or Disconnect?
Social media brought with it the ability to connect with old and new friends. It was labeled the solution to the problem of loneliness experienced by a more and more mobile generation. But nothing is without its drawbacks, as some divorce lawyers in the UK with enough time to peruse divorce petitions discovered.
One in five cited Facebook as cause for divorce.
“I had heard from my staff that there were a lot of people saying they had found out things about their partners on Facebook and I decided to see how prevalent it was,” Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online, told the UK’s Telegraph. “I was really surprised to see 20 per cent of all the petitions containing references to Facebook. The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to.”
Sexy chats. E-mails. Wall posts. Private albums. It used to be that affairs had to be conducted secretly on our own time. Now, they can unfold as we sit beside our spouses in bed, typing on our laptops as they read. But is it that more people are cheating because of how much more accessible people are, or is it that it’s just easier for people to get caught?
This month’s issue of Details magazine gives us some hard numbers in their article “Everyone Else Is Cheating–Why Aren’t You?”:
Numbers from the book Lust In Translation, by Pamela Druckerman.
“A lot of people are coming to terms with the unnaturalness of monogamy,” says David P. Barash, co-author of Strange Bedfellows: The Surprising Connection Between Evolution, Sex and Monogamy. “But there’s a difference between the public persona–what we like to think of each other–and what we all know goes on.”
And this, perhaps, is why Facebook is so dangerous.
Any friend or colleague can tag a picture of you from the office Christmas party where you spent a little too much time, and were a little too close, with that blonde from accounting. Neglect your settings for a second and any busybody can tip off your husband. Don’t draw boundaries and any irrationally exuberant lover can leave you a wall post or make a picture comment that is just a little too telling.
Next thing you know, you’re living a moment of hell.
The paradox is that we don’t tolerate infidelity one bit culturally. According to a Gallup poll Americans find adultery more appalling than polygamy and human cloning.
And yet here we are, o ye unfaithful. Yes, you, you, you and you. Men and women. Don’t forget that Cookie magazine survey that revealed one in three stay-at-home mothers were fooling around on the side.
Is it as simple as to say it’s just the need to satisfy something physical? If that’s the case then why do less than 10 percent of adulterers say they do it because they’re sexually dissatisfied while 48 say it is about finding a way to emotionally connect with someone? A staggering 92 percent of cheaters say their affairs are not primarily about sex.
So what is it about?
I will never forget the comment a friend left me on a blog post shortly after I was married, which included a quote by the author Raymond Chandler: “Marriage is like a newspaper. It has to be made fresh every damned day of every damned year.”
Newspapers, once a staple of our lives, are now folding all over the country. We have gone digital. It’s not the same, but it’s starting to feel natural. Is marriage a newspaper? Is the institution folding?
As early as 1968, when the book The Mirage of Marriage by William Lederer and Don Jackson was written, its authors were cautioning about the institution: “American thinking patterns and traditional American values concerning marriage are rusty, broken-down, obsolete.”
You want to hear what I think?
Americans, as a people, are pragmatic. We can’t have an espresso maker and a drip coffee machine and a cappuccino machine—we’d rather a Starbucks that can cater to us on every street corner. Time is money, honey. Go, go, go. The faster, the better. Why have a GPS, mp3 player, mobile phone and laptop when we can have it all in a smartphone? Who cares if our iPhone or BlackBerry doesn’t entirely allow for proper browsing of our favorite sites, taking quality pictures and video, or typing easily? At least they’re at our fingertips.
So, too, must a marriage be a source of everything in this country. I used to tell my ex-husband all the time, “your wife can’t be your best friend, your business partner, your confidante, your mistress, your mother, your maid, your whore, and the mother of your offspring all at once.” He thought she could and should.
(Let me tell you something–no matter what a ravenous beast you are, if you wake up every morning to his clothes scattered around the bed, you’re not going to feel compelled to speed dial him at work and whisper how badly you want his you-know-what you-know-where.)
So what happens? Select one person to fulfill each aspect of our needs? That’s logical–but where do we put the impulse to possess every aspect of someone that seems to come so naturally when we love?
I don’t know. But I’ll tell you one thing: social media is making it harder by the day to not face these issues.