Facebook and the Ugliness of Divorce
Let’s be honest: Facebook lets us peek into the lives of others and find out not simply what’s going on but how they’re experiencing what’s going on. Status updates, pictures, comments, etc. all give us a glimpse into their world and their feelings about their world. Sometimes the view of it all makes us smile, chuckle, or fall over clutching our sides in outright laughter.
But there are times when the view from our computer screen makes us cringe, cry, and pray for our friends. In many ways Facebook has changed the way we connect and relate with others (especially those we don’t see often), but it’s not always been for the better. Take for example this scenario, which I all too often see and hear about: A husband and wife are getting divorced, and decide to air all their dirty laundry publicly on Facebook. Since they share mutual friends, the result of this “airing” is that chaos ensues.
Divorce has always been ugly, so I don’t think that Facebook has somehow made the act and its participants more destructive. But Facebook has provided a new venue for hurting one another. Take for example status updates like these: “Jane Doe is starting fresh,” “John Doe is doing things RIGHT this time around,” “Jane Doe can’t wait until this divorce is finalized,” “John Doe wishes his wife would just move out already,” “Jane Doe is going to take him for all he’s worth,” “John Doe has never felt true love,” etc. etc. Airing your divorce on Facebook has become a new trend, but it really reveals more about the nature of humanity than about the medium.
Human beings are born sinners, the Bible tells us, and our hearts are bent towards selfishness and self-worship. Divorce itself is evidence of this. I am not of the persuasion that divorce is always wrong, but there are particular circumstances that surround its appropriateness. What is clear, however, is that the kind of back-handed (and especially more direct) slandering of your spouse publicly on Facebook is not God-honoring or glamorous. It may make you feel better to slam your soon-to-be-ex-husband for not picking up his dirty underwear, but your friends won’t often applaud you for it, and those that do are missing the other revelation that Facebook offers: divorce is ugly.
We live in a society that has embraced divorce as simply part of the norm. We contend that people ought to get pre-nuptial agreements because 50% marriages don’t work out. But, hey, that’s okay, because if this marriage doesn’t work out you can just find somebody else. And children are often thought to survive divorce unscathed, because, after all, lots of kids’ parents aren’t married in this day and age and they all made it through the event. But the reality is that divorce is ugly. It is the tearing apart of a family. And so while one doesn’t have to be particularly proud of those who express their divorce on Facebook, I am grateful for the glimpse into reality that it has given us. Divorce is ugly and we all forgot that. Facebook has simply thrown it back into our … well, faces!
Good post. I want to add a pastoral care experience I’ve had where a spouse reconnects with an “old flame” on Facebook; their spouse is not an online person. So an e-relationship begins to develop. Come to find out, the “old flame” flames out, but the discovery of the relationship does put the marriage to a test, ending up in separation.
My advice to spouses is to be open about who one another’s friends are. Ask your spouse, who’s this or that? Talk about your FBing with one another. The couple who FB together, stay together, but those who keep FB from each other … it’s like keeping any other secret.
I love FB b/c of how well I’ve gotten to know my congregation better, reconnect with old friends, pray with and for people in HS that I never prayed with or for before. As you say, “Facebook HAS changed the way we connect and relate with others (especially those we don’t see often), but it’s not always been for the better.” Let’s do what we can not to let it be that way.
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