Till Facebook Do Us Part

divorceThe United States has topped other countries in the number of divorces per year. Divorce rates were relatively low during the 1960’s, with a score of only 9.2 per 1000 married women. It significantly rose to 22.6 per 1000 married women in the 1980’s—a score directly correlated to women’s increasing financial independence and the no-fault divorce revolution of 1970’s. Today’s divorce rate is slightly lower averaging on 16.4 per 1000 married women, but these rates might very well see a rise in numbers again, as recent polls suggest.

In a classic parody of what social networking should be about, Facebook now faces the blame for ‘putting asunder’ what ‘God has joined together’.

Facebook’s Gargantuan Role

Social networking sites such as Facebook have been cited as having direct involvement in 1 out of 5 divorce petitions filed in the United States during the past five years.

According to a survey done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2008, one out of five adults admittedly flirt with users other than their partners through Facebook. They report to having feelings of dissatisfaction with present relationships and therefore seek out the convenience and easy access of what seems to be an online singles bar right at their homes.

In fact, it was only during the advent of the internet that emotional infidelity was given as much significance as sexual infidelity. Websites specializing in divorce cited a staggering 71% of women who think that extra marital cyber sex is akin with adultery while only 46% of men think this is so. Surprisingly though, polls find that women more often engage in cyber-infidelity than men.

Rev. Cedric Miller, a pastor from Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in New Jersey recently condemned Facebook as a virtual home wrecker and asked other church leaders and followers to delete their Facebook accounts. Although he confessed to carrying on an illicit affair with his wife and a male church assistant, he still firmly denounces Facebook as a ‘portal to infidelity’, claiming that 20 married couples admitted that their Facebook accounts led them to temptation.

81 percent of associates from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers also reported a recent peak in divorce case evidences gleaned from social networking sites. Facebook topped the list of evidence sources with 66% and MySpace followed at 15%. Users tend to overshare, post inappropriate pictures and divulge information about there whereabouts that can be used against them in court.

Sweeping Across the Globe

Even Britain lawyers report several cases divorces involving ‘naughty’ Facebook users and its seemingly vast pool of potential virtual third party participants. Clients have reported that their spouses are exchanging sex laced chats with other users. Couples involved in divorce spats have been reported to scour their partners’ Facebook pages for evidence to support their claims.

Rampant online flirting and reconnecting with old flames are some of the reasons named by Brits who admit to these Facebook dalliances. Just last year, a three-year marriage ended between Amy Taylor and David Pollard when she found her husband’s avatar cuddling with another on a sofa in Second Life.

It was in the UK, as a matter of fact, that the first record of online divorce happened. Emma Brady was devastated when her husband posted, “Neil Brady has ended his marriage with Emma Brady’ as his Facebook status. Nowadays, UK lawyers report that one out of five divorce cases bear the word Facebook in it.

But is Facebook really to blame here? Or has Facebook made it easier for us to do what we always wanted to in the first place?

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