It’s pretty obvious that excessive social media usage (read: Facebooking) is not the healthiest thing for a marriage. Now there’s empirical evidence to back it up. A two year study spanning 2011-2012 executed by researchers at Boston University found that “a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with anywhere from a 2.18 percent to a 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates.” Divorce Online reported “A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word ‘Facebook’.”
There are two potential reasons for this: one shows a causal relationship between the two and the other is more indicative of preexisting marital problems. First, the one spouse’s fervent use of social media outlets may put an insurmountable distance between them and their husband/wife. If one person spends numerous hours a day staring at their phone, tablet or computer screen, scrolling through other people’s pictures and chatting with friends, the other can naturally feel unappreciated. Even worse if the chronic Facebooker opens up channels with either an old flame or a new possible beau, which can lead to anything from flirting to outright infidelity.
The other reason for the link between social media use and divorce shows a likely connection to the fact that one spouse already feels isolated. They in turn use social media to either vent and express their frustration to friends/loved ones or just to seek solace and positive attention. While this may seem like a potentially helpful solution in working through marital problems, what this in reality leads to, more often than not, is an exacerbation of the initial strife.
Ilana Gershon, professor at Indiana University, wrote an authoritative book on the distinct correlation between media and the deterioration of the modern relationship “The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting Over New Media.” She found that Facebook would even be utilized as the actual means of communicating to one partner that their marriage was over, as “people would sometimes turn to these media as a way to finally end the relationship.” Many recipients of such messages took them as the most hurtful and callous use of Facebook imaginable.
So the next time you receive a notification that you have a ‘new message’ or a friend request, just remember the impact this seemingly small event may have on your marriage…
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