The Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece about Facebook and Divorce today. It was written by Carl Bialik, “The Numbers Guy” (click here for a link to his blog and to the article). Feel free to read the article, which focuses on the issue, but it really just scratches the surface. Facebook cannot “cause” a divorce any more than a plane can “cause” a crash. People initiate, respond and act. Facebook may facilitate things. Facebook may create introductions, or re-introductions to former friends (or to friends of friends). But human beings are the actors, not Facebook.
Yes, as divorce lawyers we see Facebook arise in all sorts of ways. It sometimes provides a vehicle to gather evidence (photos of a spouse kissing a paramour or vacationing in Florida while the other spouse thinks they are in Boise?). But even before Facebook, the internet did the same thing, but perhaps not so easily. There were emails, Chat Rooms, Dating Sites and even “Histories” (a list of recent websites visited by a computer user). But as a divorce lawyer who has practiced family law since before the Internet, I don’t think human nature has changed, or been changed by Facebook. Human beings seek happiness. Sometimes they find it in a good book or movie. Sometimes in alcohol, sometimes in a lover, and hopefully, in the best case scenario, they simply find happiness in themselves and their loved ones.
No, Facebook doesn’t “cause” divorce. But can it provide opportuities, connections and introductions? Sure. But so can other avenues. The difference is that Facebook feels safe, innocent. Typing from your home is much easier and less aggressive than going out to meet people, especially if the intent is to meet someone to be unfaithful with.
Cheaters will find a way to cheat, facebook or no Facebook. But there are folks who may not otherwise cheat. Perhaps they didn’t have the courage to flirt? Perhaps they had no way to meet people (they may live in a remote area)? Perhaps they are just shy? Facebook (and really the internet) eliminates these obstacles.
So what can be done? Nothing. It is really the same dilemma that has been around foryears. Do spouses trust each other? In the past it may have been do you trust your spouse to work late, especially if there is someone at work to whom he or she may be attracted? It all comes down to love and fidelity. Some people just have it. And they are the lucky ones.