Tag Archives: social networking

Can Social Networking Lead to Divorce?

Divorce lawyers are reporting this month that 20 percent of divorce petitions cite Facebook as a contributor in the marriage’s demise. It’s unclear whether the numbers are accurate, but social networking can pose a new kind of threat to relationships if not used appropriately.

Facebook’s 350 million+ users find the site allows them to easily connect with friends and relatives, people they once knew, or new people with common interests. For some people, these connections can lead to curiosity, online flirting, wandering eyes, and the opportunity to rekindle old relationships or begin new ones.

The increasing use of mobile devices to communicate on social networking sites can make  posts seem more private. However, nothing posted to the Internet is private, and these communications frequently become public knowledge.

Lack of trust by the offended spouse can result, and marriages may be splintered. Once relationships have been sparked, users may be tempted to cheat on their spouses, or may leave their marriages for a new or old flame. Temptation is as old as time, but some people may find this new type of temptation too alluring.

Some couples are opting to avoid social networks for these reasons. Others are putting in place guidelines for communicating with the opposite gender.

A helpful article at the Marriage Junkie gives 5 ways to protect your marriage if you use social networking.

A few tidbits they share include not sharing negative information about your spouse, choosing your “friends” wisely, discussing with your spouse what topics or people should be out of bounds, and avoiding private chats or the development of close relationships with members of the opposite sex. When in doubt, “unfriend” someone who is offensive or who sparks inappropriate feelings.

One tip I would add is to “friend” your spouse, or if they are not a member, provide your spouse access to your page at any time—not to “check on you” but so that you can chat about common friends and activities and have an air of openness.

A previous post details why emotional affairs can be just as deadly to a marriage as physical ones. Guard your mind and heart, and keep your focus and attention on your beloved spouse.

Do you use Facebook? Do you have any safeguards in place or do you see no need for them?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

True Connectivity

I’m a fan of Twitter and Facebook and find these and other sites help me connect with lots of different people for work and personal reasons I wouldn’t otherwise talk to. I think our use of these and other social networking tools helps fill a desire to be known by and connected to others. However, we should beware that filling our lives with technological tasks can, in some cases, actually reduce our true connectivity.

You’ve seen the friends who post details of their vacation every day and let you know when they stop for coffee. They air their grievances online. They carry their cell phone everywhere and never turn it off. They text in the middle of a dinner party. You probably know a lot more of these individuals than folks who take time out for silence.

Our frenetic pace doesn’t often allow for quiet time, for thinking, contemplation, prayer or meditation, for spending relaxing unstructured time with spouses and close family members. The wisest, calmest people you know probably allow themselves time of solitude. When we don’t take time for the bigger picture, we can begin to feel overwhelmed. We may even reach out to our social network to tell them how overwhelmed we feel or to complain about our busy schedule, which does little to solve the problem.

Many folks are finding they need to “unplug” from technology (including TV, ipods, cell phones and radio) for periods of time to help recharge their batteries, both for the more structured planning, praying or reading/learning type of activities, and for non-structured relaxed activities like taking a walk or bike ride or watching a sunset. I personally find that during these unstructured times, I often will find insight into a problem or a great idea that helps me with a project.

When you are lucky enough to be married, you have a partner for life, and someone you can truly know and be known by, an answer to our true desire to be connected. Once you allow yourself time of solitude to know yourself well, you can share yourself more effectively with your partner. Don’t allow gadgets or devices to get in the way of your personal sharing or to take away the valuable time you may need to reconnect.

This fall is the perfect time of year to appreciate the changing foliage together with your spouse while you share your feelings and discuss one another’s goals, challenges or concerns. Take time to listen and share. Don’t tweet about it, and don’t post a photo of the experience on your personal web page. Give yourself time to know your spouse and to be known. That’s true connectivity.

What gets in the way of your personal solitude or your true connectivity? Is there a way you can remove any obstacles?

How Does Happiness Spread?

“Come On, Get Happy!” Do you remember this 1970 theme song from the Partridge Family? I guarantee it will put a smile on your face if you spend 30 seconds on YouTube to hear it again. I dare you not to sing along. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40egogo4kcY

It’s what came into my mind as I read recent results of a 20-year study on how our social network impacts our happiness. One highlight is that happy people tend to be connected to other happy people, and geographical closeness is important.

It reports that we are affected by the happiness of others in our network, up to three degrees of separation. So, if our friend’s friend “gets happy” then we are more likely to be as well. Interestingly, the number of happy friends you have affects you more than the number of unhappy friends, so don’t feel like you have to dump all your sad friends to stay happy. Each new happy friend you have increases your likelihood of happiness, but a new unhappy friend has little or no effect.

What I found most interesting is the groups of people who affect us most. When our spouse becomes happier, it increases our odds of becoming happier by only 8%. When our next door neighbor becomes increasingly happy, it increases our odds by 35%. A mutual friend trumps them all when she becomes happier, increasing the probability you’ll be happy by a whopping 63%.  Happiness also seems to spread more readily via the same gender. How happy our coworkers are doesn’t seem to affect us one way or another.

Even though many people spend more time at work with than family, I don’t think they are as invested in those relationships in the way we are with friends. Of course, some people don’t even like their coworkers or are competitive with them, so we may not be pleased when they succeed.  As for the neighbors and friends part, why do you think they affect us more than spouses? I believe we put on a happy face for many of those around us, sharing good news and wishing others well. But when we come home, we don’t always save the best, most joyous part of ourselves for those in our own home. We’re tired. We’ve had a long day. We have a to-do list on which to focus. Our spouses may be used to our ups and downs and may not pay a lot of attention to our feelings or reports of our day.

Perhaps it’s a good reminder for us to really be present for our spouses, family and friends, our neighbors, and yes, even our coworkers. We should share in their joys—and pick them up when they’re down. Sing them a happy tune from the ‘70s. You might make your friend’s friend happy tomorrow.

For study details go to http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec04_2/a2338.