Couples embarking on marriage love the feeling of connection as they choose to build lives together.
Partners of a divorcing couple, on the other hand, get slammed with a sense of disconnection and loneliness. Now that our communities live online, it’s no wonder so many divorcing partners vent their anger, insecurity and anguish on social media.
We’re here to say: don’t do it.
Social networks not only contribute to the decision to divorce, they also impact divorce settlements, including child custody decisions. Recently, Facebook has provided evidence for petitioners and defendants documenting marijuana smoking and participation in other illegal activities. Petitioners claiming they were home with the children have been caught in lies when photographed at out and about at certain venues at specific times. More frightening, psychologists and other experts now search for evidence of personality disorders, drug and alcohol use and more in the personality profiles and timeline posts that social media users create for themselves. One post or profile appearing on the Internet can forever be retrieved, even if deleted.
Facebook Really Isn’t Your Friend Right Now . . .
. . . nor are the other social media networks.
First of all, keep in mind that you may have been still married when you first signed up. The number of friends the average Facebook user can boast is 338 (but the median is 200) and 15% have over 500 friends. Who can keep track of that many people? You’ve probably accrued friends who, since your separation, count themselves more as your ex’s friends. Posting your activities and ideas on Facebook can be like sending a letter directly to your ex and his or her attorney.
A post on Lifehack explains:
“While Facebook can feel like a forum of friends to whom you turn for sympathy and support, it can also be a trap. Extreme emotion, fatigue and alcohol and render reality in all kinds of exaggerated shapes and colors. Do yourself a favor and find another way to vent when in these conditions.”
It also contains a list of do’s and don’ts, including “turn off location indicators” that could prove your whereabouts. Keep in mind that you ex, the judge and even your attorney are watching you. Don’t hand them the binoculars!
Coping with Intense Emotions: 3 Alternatives Far Superior to Facebook
Have we scared you?
Despite the stern warnings we’ve delivered above, please understand that we understand the need to feel connected. Facebook proved a popular tool for divorcing couples to use for handling immediate pain. But popular tools are not necessarily effective. Understanding why Facebook tempts so mightily helps prevent giving into the temptation. While emotions may be ruling you right now, please take the time to carefully read the next few paragraphs. It should only take you a few minutes.
Married couples enjoy the support not only of their own friends and families of origin but those of their spouses. It’s only human nature to long to be in a network or social group. Newly single people dread the descent into isolation. Further, no matter how strenuously they assert that the divorce had to be, they’re usually plagued by self-doubt, not only about the decision to divorce, but about their role in the failure of the marriage, their chances of finding another life partner and even their own worthiness.
Therefore, they look for the reassurance of their communities. With long work hours followed by more shifts performing child and home care, much of our communities have shifted online. Many of us touch base with friends and family several times a week, daily, and even several times a day through Facebook, Twitter and others. They build us back up in perhaps the worst time of our lives.
Three far more robust and helpful alternatives to venting on Facebook and other social media exist. Those divorcing dwell in a dire time daily that requires back-up and outside support. Consider these three alternatives to reaching out on Facebook:
- DivorceCare.org: This nationwide clearinghouse gets you to a local support group immediately. Once there, they make it clear that friends and family who’ve never divorced tend to share bad advice. Plain English? They’re clueless.
Workshops focusing on the divorce process acknowledge the intensity of your feelings and provide lots of chances for you to share your story and your plans for your new life. Your zip code leads you to groups held in churches (but not affiliated with the church), schools and many other locations. They provide workbooks to help you journal your feelings and a group of people in the same boat to talk to.
- Therapy: With as much pain as you may be in, you risk wearing out your friends (Facebook or otherwise) with your angst, anger and sadness . . . all of which is understandable, heart-breaking and legitimate. Directing some of your emotions to a trained professional not only refreshes you, it makes you a better friend because you’re more available to LISTEN as well as vent.
Most health plans have free or low cost visits to a counselor. Therapists are trained to help you make smart decisions amid emotional turmoil. Contrary to popular fears, they are more problem-solvers than critics. Going to a therapist does not mean something is wrong with your mind or mental health. Even family court judges view therapy as a positive. Understand that the emotions you’re dealing with will deplete your energy significantly.
- Join new groups, go new places, make new friends: when you do this, you see that a whole new world is out there for you to explore. Consider journaling as you go. As Katie Couric says, “Life is a series of re-dos.” Re-do-it UP!
Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com