Do you suddenly feel the urge to check out what’s new on your Facebook?
Scanning through updates on Facebook several times a day is an everyday habit that seems harmless, entertaining and an easy way to take a break from the responsibilities of work or school. Catching up on what is going on with your relatives, neighbors and co-workers helps to keep you in the loop about what challenges, successes and daily activities they are experiencing.
But can checking your Facebook become an addiction? You may be getting restless to check yours right now just thinking about it. Research from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business showed that the strong desire to frequently connect to your social media site can be even more addictive than the urge to smoke cigarettes.
Once you find yourself passively scrolling through the latest updates, you‘re likely to stay on Facebook much longer than you anticipated staying there. The average user is on Facebook for 75 minutes.
Since Facebook saps our time, energy and focus away from our jobs, our studies and time spent talking face-to-face, it’s not surprising that heavy users of Facebook are more likely to feel lonelier and less content with their current lives than those who don’t turn to social media sites as frequently.
How does all this time we spend on Facebook lead to having a worse divorce?
Facebook And Divorce:
Facebook’s keen ability to influence our emotional state is much more powerful than we realize.
In a 2012 research study, Facebook itself came to this conclusion after discretely manipulating the newsfeed posts of a selected group of its Facebook users. Their study indicated that the emotional state of mind of those who posted was contagious and had a significant effect on the mood of those who had viewed those posts and what those viewers then chose to share on Facebook.
“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred,” according to the study.
Since divorce is usually a lengthy and gut-wrenching emotional roller coaster, frequent use of Facebook can serve as a means of distracting ourselves from dealing with the reality of the decisions we need to make right now.
Staying online can also become a way of living vicariously through the lives of others to avoid dealing with the angst, pain, resentment and anger that lie struggling for air beneath the surface when the choke-hold of divorce leaves us feeling trapped.
Since we often can’t control the length of time and money spent during the legal process of separation and divorce, our emotional energy tank runs dry and then completely out of back-up fuel as we continue to worry about all the money going out as we attempt to figure out the best ways to prove our side of the case.
And this is when Facebook really comes into play.
When it comes to gathering evidence during divorce, Facebook reigns supreme.
A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook,” according to Divorce Online and this percentage continues to rise. During the time I worked as a family law paralegal, I saw first-hand the rapid increase in the use of Facebook posts and pictures that clients printed out and supplied to use as key evidence for discovery, depositions and trial.
And it’s not just divorcing clients who are searching for the treasure chest of damning information that can be dug up on Facebook.
Your spouse’s divorce attorney or staff might be using it too. Seasoned attorneys and investigators log in to Facebook to look specifically for information they can use to substantiate allegations of infidelity, substance abuse, financial misconduct and inappropriate parenting. Some even go as far as to ‘friend’ those who are closest to the person whose information they are seeking in order to gain more access to the evidence they need to prove their client’s case.
Even if your divorce is final, seeing updates and pics about your ex and their new life (or ruthless, spend-thrift wife) can be extremely upsetting.
The temptation to look up your ex can hold you back from moving forward in your own life direction as you ruminate about past decisions, the callous lies he told you and the shiny, beach-filled life you envision them enjoying together.
So what can you do to ensure Facebook won’t make your divorce worse?
Realize that Facebook is not just a harmless daily diary. Facebook is a powerful and fertile field of harvest for your soon-to-be ex and those who support him. What you post and share today leaves a time-stamped trail behind you that you may deeply regret later on.
A smart strategy is to carefully consider what you’re about to share in light of any way it could be turned against you. And if that’s too time-consuming, you may want to de-activate or limit the use of your account until your legal case is completely over.
If you do decide to de-activate your account, there’s no need to worry about having to start all over again with a new profile page. Facebook conveniently stores your personal profile for you until you make it active again. Like decades of re-emerging conflicts in the Middle East, your history with Facebook never truly goes away.