Facebook is a never-ending drama factory, producing conflict, paranoia, passive aggression and gossip. We all know this and we’ve all experienced it.
So I can’t say that I was really that surprised when ABC News Tweeted out a story last week called “Is Facebook ruining your marriage?” reporting that a third of divorce filings from 2011 contained the word “Facebook” and that more than 80 per cent of divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise.
The top Facebook mentions in divorce filings were inappropriate messages to “friends” of the opposite sex, cruel comments or posts between separated partners or bad behavior of one partner reported to the other by a mutual friend.
Why I say I wasn’t surprised is because in my eight years on the circus known as Facebook, I’ve seen it all: the easy access to infidelity, the insecurity and jealousies between partners, the petty public fights and awkward post-breakup YouTube links.
The thing is, Facebook is just another (albeit annoying) tool that, when in the wrong hands, can be used to cause fights, heartbreak, pain, public humiliation and jealousy. It easily adds drama to any relationship, friend or amorous, and gives wandering eyes plenty of access to “friends” with similar intentions.
Perhaps the biggest reason that Facebook ends relationships is infidelity, when partners can be found reconnecting with old flames or sending inappropriate messages and photos to new ones, regardless of their relationship status. Tempting profile pictures only require a click for someone to decide whether or not to pursue that person, whether that’s adding them as a friend or sending a private message, and often the inappropriate conversations that can follow are done on the privacy of someone’s cell phone, away from prying eyes.
And that’s where the jealousy comes in.
If one partner in the relationship is a bit insecure (whether they have a reason to be or not), Facebook can be a major cause for suspicion, jealousy and eventually big blowouts. In this case one’s Facebook page might be carefully monitored by the other, as new friends of the opposite sex will be questioned (“How do you know him/her?”), and the same goes for exuberant likes or comments (“Why is he/she liking so many of your pictures?”). The worst is if a partner is still friends with their ex on Facebook, an ugly situation on its own that causes some of the biggest fights when it comes to Facebook.
It can even get to the point that if a partner’s Facebook is left logged in on the computer or leaves their phone lying around, the insecure spouse may take some liberties and look around in the message inbox. If the spouse’s suspicions are correct and they find proof of their hunch, that “in a relationship” status is quickly in question or is even changed to something else.
Then comes the drama.
Airing your dirty laundry during big fights or after a breakup on Facebook is also damaging, not only to yourself but to others as well. First of all, no one needs to know why you’re both fighting. As tempting as it is to shout it out to the world and get some online backup from your friends as to why you’re right and he/she is wrong, it’s totally inappropriate, immature and should be kept between the two of you. Second, your mutual friends don’t deserve to feel uncomfortable. They’re still friends with you both, and no one likes to see someone they care about publicly humiliated, hurt or shamed in front of the world, even if they did screw up. Keep it in the bedroom and off of Facebook.
Round and round and round it goes, where it stop, nobody knows.
But as angry as the Facebook circus can make people and as easily as the social media platform can be blamed for causing relationship issues, at the end of the day it’s just a tool, and you don’t blame a tool if it breaks something – you blame the person who’s using the tool improperly.