A few months ago, I wrote about Florida’s high divorce rate and its relation to stress and anxiety. Now it seems some researchers want to blame the rising number of divorces on social media, particularly Facebook.
American psychologists and mass media experts Russell Clayton and Jessica R. Smith contributed their research on the subject and wrote an article entitled, “Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame?” It is a very interesting. It was published in the journal: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking in 2013.
The article provides the results of a survey, conducted by the researchers in order to find out if excessive use of Facebook results in any negative effects on relationships between people, especially romantic and family relationships. According to the article, its authors decided to test the hypothesis: “If somebody often uses Facebook, can it harm his interpersonal relationships?” To put it simply, the psychologists Russell Clayton and Jessica R. Smith decided to answer the question: “is Facebook a factor in the increasing rates of cheating, breakup, and divorce of people who still love each other?”
They polled 205 active Facebook users, mainly students, though there were also much older respondents—up to the age of eighty-two! The respondents were asked to answer sixteen questions on the frequency of their Facebook use and whether they ever had conflicts with their partners (in relationships) because of the overuse of this social networking service. The final part of the survey was devoted to possible cases of separation, divorce and infidelity caused by frequent activity on Facebook.
And this is what the American researchers found as a result of this study.
Firstly, the more you use Facebook, the higher the risk of a conflict with your partner because of some Facebook topic. For example, someone wrote something that your partner (in relationship) did not like, and this caused an argument, and then, a conflict.
Secondly, although (according to the findings of Russell Clayton and Jessica R. Smith) a direct correlation between the active use of Facebook and termination of a relationship is not quite evident, the risk of a breakup increases if partners begin to argue and quarrel with each other over some Facebook issues.
Perhaps even more interesting is the authors’ use of another study which found that 80% of American elite divorce attorneys believe that the social networking service of Facebook plays a certain role in divorce proceedings. I can tell you for a fact that attorneys (not just divorce attorneys) will scour their clients and opposing parties’ social media accounts looking for something they can use in negotiation or trial.
In my opinion, there are a few pitfalls with social media. The first is the one I just mentioned. Anything you write or post on social media can and will be held against you in a court of law. I’m not one who believes people should post every random thought they have online. Maybe we should go back in time and heed the advice from the Godfather movie, “Never tell anyone outside the family what you’re thinking again.”
Secondly, it always pisses me off when I’m in a meeting or a business lunch and people around me starting checking their devices for messages. It’s just rude!
Third, many people engage in secret relationships in the virtual world thinking they’ll never get caught. If you’re still thinking that way, ask Anthony Weiner how that worked out for him.
Does social media cause a spike in cheating and higher divorce rates? I wouldn’t go that far but it sure as hell doesn’t help matters. I do believe it contributes to it. If you’re neglecting your spouse or significant other while spending time texting or posting, you’re going to eventually have a problem. Just my thoughts. Let me know what you think.