Facebook is the ultimate tattle-tale. When you ‘friend’ someone, remember that he or she, ex-boyfriend, current girlfriend of ex-husband, uncle of ex-boyfriend’s mom — remember that everyone can see almost everything you do and say.
I got a message in my Facebook inbox the other day. It had a tone of permanence that could mean only one thing—another friend was deleting her Facebook account. For most of my Facebook friends, a note like this is basically a goodbye, it’s been nice knowing you, I guess we’ll never see what each other’s kids look like or be able to exchange opinions about film and music again, because how else is any of that possible without Facebook? How did people used to do it?
I investigated further, as this particular friend had just gotten married, just moved to a new home, and was one of the few smiling profile pictures I always liked to check in on.
As it turns out, there was a very serious reason for my friend to say goodbye to Facebook. In the midst of a new marriage and a stressful move, my friend had turned to the social network to escape, particularly to the profile of an old boyfriend who had, if you’ll excuse the term, ‘poked’ her one night (on Facebook) after she and her new husband had their first fight. For her, this was the beginning of what has become a nationwide phenomenon and, according to Divorce-Online, cited in one of five divorce petitions: an emotional affair…on Facebook.
To avoid becoming a statistic in this phenomenon, you might keep the following in mind when logging on:
Passwords kept secret from your husband or long-term love can be a red flag. Passwords are meant for strangers, not the person with whom you share everything else. Do you password protect everything you do? Offering to share your password with your partner, in today’s climate, is second in a demonstration of trust only to saying “I do.” It’s like a less painful way of becoming someone’s blood brother…even if you’re a girl.
Recognize when you are misusing Facebook—pay attention to what drives you to the keyboard. Do you run to the computer when your partner neglects to comment on your new haircut, or when you haven’t had sex for a few days? It can be very easy to escape to the days of high school romance when your ‘first love’ is just a click away. And for God’s sake, don’t post your old favorite high school songs on your high school bf’s profile, no ‘thinking of you’s’ – please! That will just get him in trouble with his significant other. I remember, on my husband’s birthday, an ex of his posted “You’re so Cool…” on his Facebook wall, the final line from his favorite movie (TRUE ROMANCE)—before that I hadn’t realized he had seen it for the first time with her. Now I can’t watch my husband’s favorite movie with him without growling and thinking of this chick!
Join Us! Live In THIS World
In the ‘olden’ days, before Facebook, when married couples/dedicated partners encountered lulls in their relationships, there were fewer distractions, fewer Band-Aid remedies or, at least, less secretive ones. Back in the old days, an angry partner would grab their keys and slam out the front door to the nearest bar, and have to face the music in the morning. With Facebook, there is no “Where were you all night!?” – because, physically, the unhappy party was there. At the computer. Exchanging relatively safe (but potentially devastating), sweet, fantasy-land emails with someone behind a profile picture the size of a postage stamp. What I’m trying to say is, stay here with us in the physical world! Deal with the conflict. Remember your choices, why you selected this particular person to share your home, your bills, your bed—most importantly, your dreams and fantasies. All of that la-la-land that you find on Facebook can be found in your own bedroom, with a little effort. And the pay-off is so much greater than the angst-ridden keyboard-fueled lust of two marginally disgruntled former high-school sweethearts wishing it was 1998 again.
Be Sensitive To Who It Is You Are ‘Friending’
Facebook is the ultimate tattle-tale. When you ‘friend’ someone, remember that he or she, ex-boyfriend, current girlfriend of ex-husband, uncle of ex-boyfriend’s mom—wow, the combinations are endlessly complicated, people collect friends like trading cards—remember that everyone can see almost everything you do and say. Your partner may not appreciate seeing your comments on an ex’s page. At the very least, be open about your relationship with these people, why you are keeping in touch with them, what it means to you and what it means to your current relationship. Open communication is a good rule of thumb in pretty much any situation; it’s definitely worth mentioning here.
A few weeks later, when I decided I needed to check in with my friend, the one who had deleted her Facebook account, I actually had to…gulp…call her on the phone. We made a date, set aside some time, and met for coffee. In person.
With some trepidation, I asked how things were going with her new husband, her new life. She laughed and let me know that everything was just fine. Her online flirtation, luckily for her, had been nothing but a momentary and easy way out of these new challenges she was facing. She had managed to nip it in the bud and get back to the real world. Her husband, she said, had deleted his account as well, so they spent a lot more time talking to each other, and a lot less time buying hay for fictional animals on cyber-farms. A lot less time reminiscing about her high school boyfriend’s red Mustang at 2am while he struggled, states away, with his own new life, with his wife, with being a new father. All kinds of everyday stress comes into our lives and makes us wish for simpler times, memories experienced through rose-colored glasses, but these days it’s easier to fall into the fantasy, like Alice into the rabbit hole. Remember why you have fashioned your life the way you have, why you have made the choices you have, and strive to face struggles head on, with dignity and honesty. Without poking people.
And if you do decide to keep your Facebook account? Facebook responsibly! Watch those 3am comments…they’ll come back to bite you. I learned that the hard way when I friended the ex with whom my husband saw True Romance.
You can use your imagination with that one.