When I was going through my divorce nine years ago, Facebook really didn't exist yet--at least not in my world. I seriously cannot even imagine what it would be like now, going through a divorce, and seeing things on Facebook that you would otherwise not have seen.
I'm talking about pictures of your soon-to-be ex with the woman he left you for, pics of her hugging your kids, pics of your friends partying with your ex, and countless other scenarios that could cause pain that is like twisting the knife that is already in your flesh.
Sure, you can block him or her, but that doesn't prevent your friends from pulling up people's pages and showing you on their phones.
Although I like Facebook a lot, I think there are so many evils that come with the social media giant, and that for divorcees and those going through a breakup, it truly can be the devil.
Here are 7 reasons Facebook might be the devil for divorcees:
1. You can feel excluded. Let's say people post photos of a party you were not invited to. It's hurtful, even if the host didn't mean it. And, if it wasn't for Facebook, you'd never have known about it. Furthermore, if adults feel this way, can you even imagine how kids feel when seeing Instagram photos of parties they weren't invited to? It makes me sick.
2. It can make you feel like everyone else's lives are better than yours. The Facebook feed can seem like an endless array of photos of perfect, happy families, smiling, looking great and having the time of their lives on a beach vacation. While I don't begrudge anyone for taking trips and enjoying their families, let's be honest, the photos almost seem like commercials. And that's OK, as long as you, the viewer understand that the person who posted the photo is putting his or her best out in public. Can you blame that person? Should he or she post photos of the argument he or she had with his or her wife the night before, where doors were slammed and they went to bed angry? No way. Posting photos on Facebook is kind of like leaving the house dressed, with makeup on and with your hair done. You're showing your best self to the world, just as you do when you go out perhaps to a restaurant or a party. But to the viewer, life seems perfect, causing him or her to doubt their own life, and think everyone else has it better. The best example I can give is a woman I know who has been posting pictures of she and her husband and their kids for at least 7 years (since I've been on Facebook), and writing about how much she loves her husband. "Happy anniversary to the best husband I could have asked for and my best friend," she wrote just last year. Come to find out, she's been having an affair for over a decade. But according to Facebook, she and her husband are in living in bliss.
3. Certain people only comment on negative news. I don't post negative comments very much, but occasionally I find Facebook a great way to vent. There are certain people who will only comment if I post something negative or about something bad that happened to me. It makes me sad, because for every 200 positive posts they have nothing to say. One bad one and they are all over it. Kind of makes me feel a little icky.
4. People tend to get a little psychotic. I've had people get angry with me for not "liking" their posts. I've had people call me a liar because I posted something they thought was taking place during a time I said I had plans and couldn't get together that night. (In other words, the picture was from a few nights earlier.) These are totally nice, normal people. I just don't get it. Does Facebook bring out the worst in people?
5. You can find stuff out you might not want to know. This is sort of a good thing and a bad thing. Let's say someone wants to set you up with someone. The first thing people do is look them up online, right? So, you might look at his picture and say "no thanks," or you might go to his page and cringe at some of his posts, which can make you say "no thanks." Saving time or giving up a great guy? You might find out the person is married, or you might see that you have mutual friends, ask your friend about him or her, and the friend says, "Stay away from him," which is actually a good thing, but maybe not. Facebook is kind of like that friend you have that isn't afraid to tell you the truth, no matter how badly it might hurt you.
6. You can post things that are damaging to you. When Mark Zuckerberg came up with Facebook, it was because he needed to vent about his broken heart. He wanted people to validate his pain. I get that. Honestly. I'm the queen of writing articles that stem directly from my personal experiences. When we are upset, we want to soothe ourselves by feeling like we are heard. We want to be validated and understood. And Facebook gives us that forum. But people go too far because they are emotionally distraught, and then they regret it later. Ahem...newly separated people. Watch out. You are fragile and vulnerable. If you post something on Facebook, the world will see it and it will get back to your ex.
7. Postings can be used against you in court. If you post something inappropriate--a photo of you half-naked or guzzling beer, bad sentiments against your ex, or anything that a judge might not find too favorable, it could end up costing you. In other words, it could affect custody or financial rulings. Be very careful.
All in all, I think Facebook is great. it's fun, it's interesting and it's entertaining. I love seeing pictures of my friends and family and their kids, and I get lots of laughs from some of the posts, articles and videos. Additionally, I think Facebook is a free way to grow your business, and I have benefited greatly from it in that regard.
But, is Facebook the devil? In some ways it is, but I think if you change your frame of mind, cut through all the crap, avoid taking things personally and just take it for what it is, Facebook then becomes pretty harmless.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.