Turn off the computer and go to bed

Because it turns out that social networking is increasingly breaking up marriages:

More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a  legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time,” says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney in New London, Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook.

“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says. Facebook declined to comment.

Even when extra-marital affairs develop with no help from Facebook, experts say the site provides a deceptively comfortable forum for people to let off steam about their lives and inadvertently arouse the suspicions of spouses. “The difference with Facebook is it feels safe, innocent and private,” says Randy Kessler, an Atlanta, Ga.-based lawyer and current chair of the family law section of the American Bar Association. (See Facebook and Divorce Discussed in WSJ.) “People put an enormous amount of incriminating stuff out there voluntarily.” It could be something as innocuous as a check-in at a restaurant, he says, or a photograph posted online.

When couples do end up in divorce court, lawyers say Facebook posts are used to determine alimony and child custody. Last year, a superior district court judge in Connecticut ordered a divorcing couple to hand over the passwords of their respective Facebook to the other’s lawyers. Kessler says it’s an extremely useful vehicle to gather evidence. “It helps me cross-examine a witness,” he says.

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  • Notgiven

    …and, Mark Zuckerberg better careful. He just got married!

  • Catherine

    But my husband is asleep, so it’s OK! More seriously, rabbis agree with you: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/what_kvetch_at_citi_hvj7UcweRnsS7vKOingHFJ?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=Queens

  • Midwestlady

    LOL. Nobody wants to comment on this one. :o

    The worst thing about Facebook, in my opinion, is that they insist that you use your real name. This makes it possible for people to “friend” each other after not much more than a fast conversation on the bus, which is scary and immediate. And it makes it possible to keep in touch with pretty much everyone you’ve ever known without exerting much real effort. There are all kinds of ways to find people with your special interests too, and bored, lonely people want to talk about their interests when they’re not at work. Psychological studies have also shown that people will type in things they wouldn’t say in person (which probably doesn’t surprise you, Dcn). And this probably contributes, too.

    I’m not on Facebook. Facebook scares me. They insist on having your real birthdate too. Hmmm.

  • Klaire

    I sometimes wonder if that “alleged” prophesy of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was true. Back in the late 1800′s, she spoke of a “black box” that would enter our homes, from which satan would enter. If my memory serves me well, there were also a few other saints who said something similar.

    So, TV or internet, take your pick, but I do think it’s fair to say, even in addition to pronography, that both the TV and the Internet could be detrimental to marriage and family life.

  • Catherine

    I think she was talking about iPads. If my children get near one, it does indeed seem that they have been possessed.

  • http://themightyambivalentcatholic.blogspot.com/ Steve

    Catherine, you made me laugh! Thanks!

  • IntoTheWest

    You don’t have to use your real name or birthdate, actually, and lots of people don’t, or use a similar-but-not-quite-the-same version of their real names. I have three pages — my real-name profile, my fake-name profile (which I use for political/religious debate pages on FB) and my professional page. Also, you can tailor your privacy settings so that people cannot look you up by name or email, and so that only those you’ve friended can see your updates, or see your more personal updates. You can hide your “friend” list, too, which is always a good idea if you’ve friended your children.

    That said, I’m enjoying the epic fail of the Facebook IPO. ;~)

  • Midwestlady

    That’s what I’ve been told–that you can use a fake name–but Facebook gets all huffy about the possibility that you might do that when you go to sign up. Part of the reason I don’t do it is because a) it turns into an honesty thing, and really unnecessarily at that point, in my view, and b) I don’t know what happens if you get caught except maybe they bounce you out.

    I guess I’m repelled by the fact that they’d crawl the internet to scrounge up info on me–and they do–but I can’t protect myself with normal means or they get offensive. It’s an imposition. And so even though I’d like to have the benefits, I haven’t signed up. Too much hassle.


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