Social media began as a way of people networking with each other from around the world, further reducing the world into a global village. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have widely been used by people to share their feelings, special moments and thoughts to the world whilst contributing to different conversations. Unfortunately, these platforms have significantly negatively impacted on marriages leading to increased divorce rates.
A report titled,’ Social network sites, marriage well-being, and divorce: Survey and state-level evidence from the United States’ shows that poor communication and unmet expectations are not the only causes of divorce. According to the study, there is a strong correlation between social media usage, unhappy marriages, and divorce. Excessive use of Facebook, for example, makes a partner feel ignored and abandoned. There have also been cases of people stalking former lovers or flirting with potential lovers leading to jealousy and emotional detachment.
The Severity of the Problem
The study further revealed that with every 20% annual increase in social media usage, there is 2.18% increase in divorce rates. One may argue that other factors contribute to the increase in divorce rates but the research particularly shows that social media has a robust impact even after putting unemployment, marital unhappiness, and other factors into consideration.
Couples have revealed that they spend too much time on social media due to marital unhappiness. They feel more fulfilled and happier when they chat with friends online as opposed to spending their time with their partners. Social media is their way of forgetting the harsh reality and unwinding. In extreme cases of unhappiness, spouses engage in emotional infidelity by contacting past lovers and having an online intimate relationship.
Some people attribute their social media mal-behaviour to features such as ‘mutual friends’ and ‘suggested friends’ as well as pressure from friends. The fact that one can search for people through friends’ profiles has further augmented the thrill for adventure and finding new people for ‘harmless’ internet relationships. This has led to re-ignition of old flames and increased casual hook ups.
Internet flirting is regarded by very few people as cheating and harmful to a marriage. Uploading suggestive photos that lead to sexual replies and inboxes are often seen as harmless- a misguided opinion that has seen people file cases in court on infidelity grounds. Just because it is happening online does not guarantee that it is harmless.
Some people use social media to flaunt their lifestyle and their relationship’s private information. Unfortunately, some partners get jealous and feel the pressure to match up. This is translated into their relationship where they develop unrealistic expectations and make unnecessary comparisons. Eventually, their spouses get emotionally drained and withdraw themselves, divorcing their partners in extreme cases.
Bitter arguments have led to people creating very negative posts about their partners on social media. According to a study conducted by the American Association of Trial Lawyers (AATL), 27% of divorce cases involve spouses posting very hurtful and damaging things about their partners in social media.
In case your marriage is suffering from any problem, amicably solving an issue with your spouse is better than relying on emotional attachment from virtual friends on social media. Instead, use social media to make your marriage, not break it. Before posting anything, think and remember that in the last year alone, 81% of divorce cases used information found on social media to determine the case outcome.