It’s not surprising that with the rise of social media, our personal lives can play out live on the internet. Ever since Facebook added Relationship Status to online profiles, a person’s status as single, dating, or married can be public information for the whole world to view. First dates are now posted on Instagram, engagement ring pics shared on Twitter, and no wedding really happened unless there are pictures on Facebook.
Just like the other stages of our relationships, social media has changed the way we talk about and share divorce. Here are three ways Facebook is transforming divorce.
A whole lot of unfriending
When a couple gets divorced, there is a laundry list of information that needs updating. Changed names, updated addresses, and canceled insurance policies. Once all that is done, you can focus on the important decisions, who’s still going to be your friend on Facebook.
Will you stay Friends with your ex-wife on Facebook or are you going to unfriend her? Maybe you better block her to make sure you never see her pictures. What about all her relatives Facebook convinced you to connect with? Is it ok to unfriend her parents and her sister but keep your old brother-in-law?
After a divorce, you may also find your online friend lists shrinking without your help. Some friends may decided they prefer the company of your ex-spouse. Not only are they no longer going to hang out with you, they also don’t want to see your food pic updates on Facebook. Divorce used to be about waking up to an empty house, now it might be logging on to an empty news feed.
The Facebook blame game
By its nature, divorce has a tendency to generate blame. It might not be the most constructive behavior, but spouses often find divorce to be a great time to list out all the things they hate about each other. In recent years, Facebook has found its way onto many of these hate lists. A study in 2011 found that Facebook was mentioned in 1/3 of all divorces in Britain.
Many people complained that their spouses reconnected with old flames online to flirt, sext, and even start an affair. Divorcing spouses also used Facebook posts and updates as evidence of bad behavior, complaining about late night check-ins at clubs or constant updates from casinos. Some even accused their spouses of neglecting them by spending too much time on Facebook. It’s good to keep in mind that when things go wrong in a marriage, they often show up on Facebook.
Status update: You’ve Been Served
While it violates several rules of etiquette, breaking up through Facebook is on the rise. If you can end a dating relationship through social media, why not a marriage. A judge in Manhattan just ruled that a woman can serve her husband divorce papers through Facebook. Before you start searching for the “Quick Divorce” button on your Facebook profile, it is important to point out that this particular case had some unique circumstances.
Despite her best efforts, including hiring a private investigator, Ellanora Baidoo could not locate her husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku. It is believed he is living outside of the United States and he has refused to respond to phone calls or email. However, he continues to regularly check and update his Facebook profile. Ruling this was the best method for service, Justice Matthew Cooper allowed Baidoo to serve the divorce papers electronically through Facebook. Surprisingly enough, this is not the first divorce case to allow service by Facebook. Another judge in New York issued a similar ruling late last year.
While social media is still a relatively new technology, it offers the potential to create digital records of our lives over decades. Online wedding albums are easy. Social media is still adapting to divorce and and people all over the world are still adapting to divorce in the age of social media.