Technologically speaking, this era in our history is probably going to be known as the “social media age,” when hundreds of millions of people — from pre-teens to senior citizens – were pulled into a very innovative kind of communication and information-sharing experience.
However, as gloriously as future historians may refer to this time, there’s an aspect of social media that, according to some, isn’t so tremendous: its alleged role in causing divorce.
I use the word “alleged” because the debate on whether social media actually leads to divorce is up in the air — and like most debates on controversial and sensitive topics, it’s also pretty hostile in some circles.
A study by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) discovered that a whopping 81% of its members found damming evidence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn. And by damming evidence, we’re talking everything from proof of adultery, drug use, child neglect, and using social media as virtual war zones to attack their spouse. (Read more about that study here.)
The AAML’s finding points in the same direction as an earlier survey in the UK, which found that one in five divorce petitions filed by spouses mentioned Facebook. (Read more about that study here.)
All of this puts to core question here into even sharper relief: does social media actually cause divorce?
My view is: NO, it doesn’t.
Basically, I feel that
- If you cheat or lie, it will come out sooner or later. — And it will come out even sooner if you flaunt your questionable activities or attitudes on social media sites by posting comments or pictures about your extra marital activities.
- Whatever is posted on a social media site is available for ALL to see, even if so-called privacy settings are in place. — This means that whatever you post, or the groups/people that they affiliate with, can be used against you in family court – and impact everything from custody to asset division and more. And, if you don’t know that, you better look into this. In this case, igorance is not bliss.
- We all need to take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming everyone from Facebook to the cell phone provider for “causing” our divorce.— If you had an affair, YOU chose to have the affair, no one made you. You may have come to realize that it was a mistake. Still you have to face the consequence. If you wrote on facebook or twitter about how you don’t enjoy spending time with your children, it would be hard to support your case for full custody.
If you haven’t read about it, click here to read the blog post on this blog about a woman who is suing Rogers (her cell phone company) for “causing her divorce” because Rogers mailed the invoice to her home. And her husband read the invoice containing her secret lover’s phone number in the call log.
So, what do you think? Is social media causing divorce by enabling or encouraging people to post intimate details? Do social media sites have an obligation to warn people in a more effective, jarring way (think of cigarette warnings)? Should social media content be “off limits” for divorce lawyers and the courts, or treated differently by the courts compared to other types of evidence?
Or does the burden of responsibility belong with the individuals? Is social media simply better at exposing what people have done for ages and ages – that is, lie in court and hope to get away with it?
Or perhaps the blame is shared?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this important topic. And while you’re sharing your view, take Divorce Magazine’s latest poll on infidelity – Have you ever been unfaithful?
Dan Couvrette is a marketing expert, public speaker, magazine publisher, and artist. He is the CEO of and Divorce Marketing Group, a Toronto-based marketing agency dedicated to helping divorce professionals (such as lawyers, financial advisors and mediators) across North America market their services; and the CEO & Publisher of Divorce Magazine and www.DivorceMagazine.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. He can be reached at (866) 803-6667 ex. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.