Now, if you read my last blog (and you should because it's brilliantly entertaining), you will remember that I discussed how social media is killing dating. Well, it turns out, social media is a bit of a serial killer because it has launched an assault on monogamy as well. Before everyone gets all huffy and puffy and starts telling me how social media is the greatest thing that has happened to the world since sliced bread, let me say, to some degree, I am a big fan of social media. See, I live in, well, the Boondocks. The majority of my friends live out of state and the most exciting thing to do where I live besides the Annual Tallapoosa Possum Drop (see previous blog posts), is to go out to one of the local chain restaurants and eat yourself into a coma. So in an effort to stay in touch with my friends, and to keep myself from having to get "Wide Load" tattooed on my ass, I spend large amounts of time on social media sites. And while it is a great way to keep in touch with friends, it can be the catalyst leading to the demise of many relationships.
Allow me to paint a picture for you.
A couple is in love. They have made it past the honeymoon phase and are in a real, meaningful relationship. Like all couples, they occasionally fight. One night, they have a doozy of an argument. He storms out and she collapses crying in the bedroom. She gets on the phone with her friend and talks about what an ass her husband is; He calls up a buddy, goes to the bar, has a few beers and vents. While he is talking he notices a very attractive woman at the the end of the bar. She is pretty enough that he notices her, but he does not know her and doesn't make any effort to talk to her because he's "not that guy.". After venting for a while, he cools off and realizes maybe he said some things he shouldn't have. He pays for his beer and heads home. Across town, she is concluding the same thing. Her sister is in the middle of a nasty divorce and she realizes maybe she allowed some of the issues her sister is dealing with to creep into their argument. He comes through the door. Both have had a chance to get out of the moment, cool down, realize how much they love each other and are ready to have a calm discussion about what is bothering them.
We'll call that one "Before Social Media."
Now let's paint another picture.
A couple is in love...blah, blah, blah... they have a terrible fight. He storms out. She gets on Facebook and starts talking about what a complete asshole her husband is. People start to comment. She gets a private message from a male colleague. It starts off simply enough, "Are you OK?" She responds with an in-depth email about why her husband is the biggest jerk on the planet. Her phone rings. It's her sister. She ignores it and continues the conversation with her male colleague who is sympathetic and apologizes for the male race explaining that not all men are insensitive jerks.
Across town, he is at a local bar. He looks at his phone and reads another text. She is still arguing with him even though he has stopped responding. He ignores the text and clicks on to his Facebook. So I'm an asshole he thinks as he reads her Facebook status. He scrolls through and sees pictures of happier couples, joking and having fun with each other. An ex-girlfriend from high school sees him logged in and IMs him asking him the name of the restaurant they went to when they were kids that had the good cheesecake. They haven't really talked. It's been 20 years since they dated in high school and have only been friends through Facebook which means, they see each other's statuses and occasionally "Like" them. He wonders what she has been up to all of these years. He IMs her back and they start reminiscing. After a few minutes, she IMs her cell phone number and says Call me.
We'll call this one "After Social Media."
See, to me, this is why social media is leading to the end of monogamy. Let's face it, every relationship has its ups and downs. That's natural. But social media creates two things that weren't there before: opportunity and fantasy.
Once upon a time, people had to go to great lengths to have an affair. First, they had to approach someone and hope not to be met with disgust. Then, if the other person was game, they had to try to catch them at work, leave a message, or call the house and ring once or however, people that have affairs communicate to let the other person know they are trying to get in touch with them. If a clandestine meeting was arranged, but something suddenly came up, there was little way to contact the other person. That usually left them sitting there at some restaurant or in some hotel alone, feeling abandoned and foolish.
Much more went into an affair and with no internet or individual cell phones, it was much easier to get caught. A person had to really evaluate their relationship to determine whether or not it was even worth it to have an affair, and in many instances, by the time it came to actual do the dirty deed, they had calmed down, made up with their spouse, and realized it probably would have been a huge mistake.
Today there are websites that you can go to if you are specifically looking to have an affair to connect with other people that are looking to do the same. Another affair convenience - the cell phone. Today, everyone has their own phone. Lovers can talk all day because texts and pictures can be deleted. If a meeting has to be canceled, a quick text can be sent immediately and the date can be rescheduled. Any time one lover has some free time, they can reach the other to see if they are available. No dodging the wife or hubby by calling and then hanging up the home phone. Simply shoot a text or IM.
Social media also provides what I like to call cyber courage. Remember that old boyfriend from your early 20's or the head cheerleader you never had the guts to ask out in high school? Guess what! They are on Facebook. Just send them a harmless friend request to see what they have been up to. In fact, you don't even have to send them a request, just send messages back and forth. After all, what could it hurt? You are just going to catch up. It's no big deal. But then one day, you have a fight with your spouse. Or maybe it's more than a fight. Maybe it's a rough patch. And maybe you have a drink or two and decide to escape into Facebook. You see that boyfriend that always seemed to understand you or that gorgeous girl you always wished you dated.
You send an innocent message about how well they have aged or make a comment about their status. Next thing you know you are in an in-depth conversation. You find yourself thinking, why did I ever break up with him? Or you learn that the prom queen had always secretly hoped you would have asked her out. Next thing you know, you go from "liking" each other's post to talking every day and you eventually exchange numbers.
Don't get me wrong. I believe social media has its advantages. One of the greatest things about social media is that it puts you in contact with friends and loved ones that you may have lost touch with over the years. Through the magic of Facebook and Instagram you can take a harmless, voyeuristic peek into their seemingly perfect lives - the photos of vacations to exciting places, romantic kisses caught on camera, cute status updates... suddenly everyone has found their soul mate and everyone has movie love.
Oh, and the sex... my God...THE SEX IS INCREDIBLE...for everyone else. Well, maybe they aren't talking about it on Facebook, but you're no prude. You've visited the occasional porn site. And let me tell, they weren't doing this kind of stuff when you were in the game! Sure one of your buddies would talk about the occasional sleazy girl that he nailed that would let him do anything and everything to her, but you usually knew he was full of shit. Now, damn! Everyone is having better sex than you. You have seen it first hand. Everyone is having amazing, three and foursome, tied to the bed post, earth-shattering, multiple orgasmic sex but you.
Facebook, the internet, Instagram all create fantasies of perfect, non-compromising relationships. People don't air their dirty laundry, discuss their sexual failures and missteps, or talk about their fights (well, some do, but not for long because they usually end up broken up if they get to that stage). Instead, you get glimpses into the happy times and perfect moments, and you start to convince yourself that everyone is happy but you. Everyone is having better sex and more meaningful relationships than you. You start to doubt yourself and your relationship and again, this is where opportunity can appear because maybe someone else is feeling the same way. So you toss a line to see if anyone bites. If they aren't interested or get offended, you can always say they misunderstood or that you were only joking. If they do bite, maybe you can begin your own fantasy love story.
Now I am aware that people have to take responsibility for their own actions and if they cannot use social media responsibly, then they shouldn't use it at all. But there are those instances when even the most respectable people have lapses in judgment and someone can knowingly (or unknowingly) prey on that weak moment.
Good people caught in a weak moment can regrettably exchange true intimacy for the fantasy promised online. Fantasies are dangerous things. They have no flaws. Social media allows people to delude themselves into believing the fantasy is the reality.
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