For many people, relationships are complex enigmas of conflicting emotions. Figuring out how to successfully co-exist with another human being can be as daunting a task as figuring out why Charlie Sheen is famous (winning!?). Add a little Facebook to the mix and some relationships are crumbling faster than my dreams when it was time to leave Disneyland.
According to research by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Facebook use has been cited in one of five U.S. divorce cases. More than 80 percent of divorce lawyers in the country say that there’s a rising number of people using social media as the catalyst or the conduit for extramarital affairs.
Apparently the buzz created by getting reacquainted with old high school pals is enough of an aphrodisiac to spike a connection that leads, in some cases at least, from a harmless “poke” session to a marriage-ruining poke session of another kind.
“One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact,” says psychologist Steven Kimmons of Loyola University Medical Center.
Kimmons isn’t convinced that these sorts of occurrences come out of a desire or intention to cheat, however. “I don’t think these people typically set out to have affairs. A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say ‘hello’ and catch up on where that person is and how they’re doing,” he says.
The trick is understanding how technology interacts with the psyche, I suppose. We know that video games produce different levels of skills in players. With news coming out this week that players of certain games can actually become more “helpful” people, it’s not hard to see that technology has, at the very least, some role in our social development. There are those who still relegate social networking to, say, the purview of pre-teen girls. But these ignorant dismissals aside, most people in today’s world are interacting on a deep level with the products and services of this era.
Is it fair to say that Facebook will ruin your marriage? Is it even fair to say that Mario and Luigi will make you a more cooperative individual? Absolutely not. But for those wretched malefactors of the heart, technology sure makes for a good excuse.