Welcome to the 21st century, where Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networking sites have made it possible for you to be in touch with your old high school or college friends, long lost relatives, people you worked with 15 years ago, and that best friend you had at summer camp when you were 14. How else would this be possible? In addition to just being able to make contact, you find that many people on these sites also tell you a great deal about their lives, logging in each day to tell you what it is they’re doing right now, what is happening in their marriages and at work, what they’re going to do next, and how they feel about it. For many this is the kind of openness and sharing they have been wanting in their lives. It is a way to express their joy at all the wonderful things they have experienced: their partners, their children, their careers, etc. For others, it is a forum for expressing their anger at their boss, their girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, parents, etc.
There have been instances where one spouse has put the information about the affair his/her partner had on Facebook. Sometimes it is the person having the affair who has offered information they thought would be private, only to find out that no privacy actually exists. The days of the community knowing what goes on behind closed doors has spread to as large a community as you can imagine. One thing to consider when putting information on social networking sites is that you can’t take it off again. The entry is permanent.
Depending on the current age of your children, it may mean they may have access to this information as well. You may want to think about whether this is something you would like to deal with the next day, next week or next year, depending on when they might get access to what you had written. In the case of divorce, another person who may be checking the social networking sites is your ex-partner’s attorney. It has become an important resource for knowing what kind of questions to ask in divorce proceedings. Many attorneys have indicated they do a Google search of all parties, including their own client.
When people are angry, they do not always think about the consequences of their actions, as when they can’t take back what they wrote on one of these sites in the heat of the moment. Privacy is breached when you write something about others as well as about yourself. The Golden Rule is always a good measuring rod.
Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.
According to Divorce-Online, Facebook was named in one-third of all divorce filings in 2011. So, whether you are already in the midst of your divorce and letting your Facebook friends know what is going on or if you are engaged in activities that can be found out about because of the social networking information you have made available about yourself, that information is more than likely going to be seen by people you would rather did not have access to it. And remember, there is no way to un-ring the bell.
Words of caution for posting to a social networking site:
- Monitor your emotions when considering what you write.
- Think about what you would want your children to have access to well into the future.
- Be aware of your privacy concerns when your ability to change your mind is not available.
- Consider all the people you would not want to know what you have written and assume access, in some way, is possible.
- Think about how it feels when others write unsavory things about you before you write the same about them.