By Douglas Katz – 10/04/2023
Social media can be helpful, but it can also be very risky. We often hear about how it affects our mental health and causes problems like fights, conflict and mistakes. Now, when it comes to divorce, these dangers become even bigger. Social media can be both good and bad during a divorce, but we need to be careful and think before we use it.
The Big Risk: Everyone Can See What You Do
One big problem with social media during a divorce is that everything you post or comment on is there for everyone to see. Sometimes, people make mistakes and say things that can hurt them in court or make their lives more difficult. Once it’s out there, it’s hard to take it back. Most lawyers suggest being careful and not sharing too much online during a divorce. Many articles and podcasts talk about this, so you can find more advice from legal experts, but here is a good basic example.
Imagine a married couple, Mary and John, who are going through a divorce. Both of them use social media a lot. One day, Mary gets really upset about her divorce and writes a mean post about John on Facebook. She says some hurtful things and even shares a secret about their problems.
John’s lawyer sees Mary’s post and shows it to him. John feels hurt and decides to respond on social media, sharing some personal things about Sarah. Their friends start taking sides, and it turns into an online fight.
Later, when they go to court for their divorce, the judge has seen their social media posts. The judge thinks, “These two can’t get along at all.” Because of what they posted online, the judge makes decisions that neither Mary nor John like. They wish they had been more careful about what they shared online.
So, what you say on social media during a divorce can affect how things turn out in court. It’s better to be careful about what you post and keep personal matters private. Talk to your lawyer or trusted friends and family instead of posting everything online.
The Hidden Danger: How Social Media Tricks Us
Another danger that people often don’t think about is how social media can change us without us even knowing it. I recently read a book called The Chaos Machine by Max Fisher which laid bare the scary truth about social media and, in turn, helped me understand the impact of social media how its algorithmic control over our experience. Basically, social media algorithms can and do push us in certain directions without us realizing it. It is a sort of mind-control based in hacking of our brains to drive action and behavior. Yes, it is that pervasive and you can, I am certain, see how this could complicate divorce.
To get this, you need to know how social media works. These companies want more and more people to use their platforms, so they show us things that keep us engaged. They like it when we talk about things that make us emotional or divided. Conflict drives traffic and the data supports it. Studies say that if you click on something, they show you more of the same as well as things tangentially associated with or more outrageous to entice you to read, watch or click it. This is why people sometimes become extreme in their views. It’s a bit like going down a rabbit hole, and it can damage relationships.
You might think, “I’m not talking about politics or big issues. I’m talking about my divorce.” That’s true, but even in divorce, social media can be risky in a few ways.
Everywhere You Look, It’s About Divorce
If you start looking at divorce stuff on social media, the algorithms will keep showing you more divorce-related content. It can feel like you can’t escape it, even if you want a break from thinking about your divorce. This constant exposure to divorce-related content can make you feel even more stressed. Just like how culture and political come to be a person’s identity, the divorce can come to be yours if your not careful. This also make you vulnerable to the second way that the algorithms work.
Becoming More Extreme Without Knowing It
Social media doesn’t know if you’re talking about your divorce or something else. It only sees what you click on and how long you stay on a topic. So, your divorce can follow the same pattern as someone who gets extreme views about health or other topics. Interviews with people who have been radicalized but broke free of their extreme belief structures by social media do not recount knowing when it happened or even realizing that the process was taking place. If you click on something out of curiosity, the algorithm will show you more of it. Many sources, both individual or commercial, even create controversial content to get more attention. This is true of divorce related content as well. Possibly even more so as the added emotion and stress involved can make you more vulnerable.
Content Made to Keep You Hooked
We already said that more conflict gets more attention. So, the algorithms often suggest things that might make you angry or upset because they want you to keep using the platform. Other users also know this, and, as we already established, they create content that will get you talking and sharing. This can make you spend even more time online. Content creators know how these systems work and know that their content is a trail of breadcrumbs toward their belief system. These creators range from the know-it-all denizens of online groups to professionals who can benefit from your continued engagement. Either way, they are like the house in Las Vegas and you only win by leaving the table.
Virtual Becomes Real
Often, what happens online affects how we think and act in real life. If you see videos or comments that are of a negative nature. There could be an especially vocal person trashing their ex-partner and advising people to treat them with the same contempt as they do. This can change how you feel and make you more angry or uncooperative. This change in attitude can then affect your divorce as you mimic their approach, even subtly . Your actions might become more confrontational, and it can be hard to reach an agreement that’s good for both sides and the agreement can be worse that the more cooperative option. In any circumstance, it will likely result in bigger legal bills.
So, let’s look at another example. Bill and Ann are getting a divorce which is amicable and focused on win-win options. They both use social media to find advice and support. Ann starts reading posts that say she should fight hard against her ex, and Bill joins a group that encourages him to be stubborn about everything in the divorce.
As they keep reading and talking to people who think the same way, their views change. What was once a peaceful separation turns into a big fight, and it’s harder to agree on anything.
The Solution: How to Use Social Media Wisely
Now, we don’t want to say that you should never use social media during your divorce. There are good things about it too. You can find people who understand what you’re going through, experts, and communities that can help. But you need to be careful.
Here’s what you can do:
- Choose Your Team Wisely: Pick people you trust, like your lawyer or counselor, to help you. Listen to their advice more than what you see online. The can help keep you grounded and avoid bad social media driven decisions and actions as well as keeping you grounded.
- Be Mindful Online: If you do use social media, remember that your actions affect what you see. Be careful about what you click on. If you want to use social media for a resource, keep your activity on track. Only consume specific content relevant to the concept that you need more information about. Be careful about venting in the public square as it will be there forever and it can be a first step toward sabotaging your divorce.
- Use Your Team: If you find something that makes you unsure, ask your trusted team for advice. You hired them for their professionalism and credibility and you are paying them for it. Use this to verify something that is making you question your approach. You may get some good information on social media, but do not assume that you are.
- Take Charge of Your Divorce: Don’t let social media change how you think and act. If people online question your choices, remember that they don’t know your situation as well as you do. The path of your divorce is as unique as you are. Whether in the virtual world, the physical world or both, you need to chart the right path and make sure that you stay on it. Social media can be part of this, but only if it provides constructive support and information. You need to make sure that it does and abstain if it does not.
- Find Productive and Positive Diversions: It may seem simple but the best way to prevent the impact on social media is unplug. Get out and find more productive and positive diversions to minimize your exposure and vulnerability to the rabbit home.
Protecting Your Path to Peace
Social media can be tricky during a divorce. It can make you feel like divorce is everywhere and push you to be more extreme without you realizing it. But you can use social media wisely. Remember, it’s your divorce, and you should be in control. Listen to people who know what they’re talking about, be careful online, and don’t let social media change you into someone you’re not. By doing this, you can make your divorce as smooth as possible and avoid unnecessary conflicts.