I used to spend more than my fair share of time on Facebook. I am a lover of nostalgia, and so got a huge kick out of finding old friends who I haven’t seen since high school or even earlier. After a while, however, it became more of a social experiment than a networking tool. I see the people who are on all of the time, updating, writing on people’s walls, ‘poking’ people, etc. You start to see patterns and habits. A lot of the people I know on FB are stay at home moms, so their attraction to it seems a harmless way to get a little adult time (though often the activity on FB is more akin to adolescent play) into a day most likely filled with a lot of work and a fair bit of monotony. There are lots of folks on there who have been victims of the recent surge in layoffs, and so they might be spending more time on there than they would if they had gainful employment (I was definitely in this category for a while myself). But lately I’ve been hearing more and more stories about people reconnecting with old flames. Reminiscing sometimes turning to something a little more sinister. I personally know of the demise of at least one marriage due to this phenomenon. I see others teetering on the edge of impropriety. When does contact with an ex go from innocuous to inappropriate? In the social networking world, lines are easily blurred. Sometimes disappointment, frustration, and heartache can sometimes arise when adhering to the vows of marriage. And the temptation to find solace elsewhere is real. Before Facebook was even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye those who felt weakened by the stress had to seek out affairs the old fashioned way – physically seeking an affair. These days, there is a much less personal and easier way to be unfaithful. It’s easy to understand the draw; through the magic of the internet you can be transported back to a simpler time – when you still had dreams about what you would be when you grew up and before you knew the anxiety that comes along with mortgages, jobs, children, responsibilities. Like a ‘do-over’ when something unfair gets in the way of your chance of winning the game, making a home run. Marriage can be so hard sometimes. Facebook flirting is so easy, so benign, and so manageable. A superpoke here, a quippy wall posting there – but where does it end? That is up to those involved. Do you start sending private emails? Do you exchange cell phone numbers? Do you plan a face-to-face reunion?
Facebook certainly didn’t invent bad decisions like this, it’s just made them a lot easier to execute. Visiting the past can be sweet and harmless. The extra layer of impersonality can encourage brazen action that very often will soon be regretted.