Who Are You Talking to on Facebook?
This post is a little out of the ordinary for me, but God has laid it on my heart today so I thought I would share it. In my research for DivorceMinistry4Kids.com I come across a lot of research about divorce. Much of that research deals with the devastating effects of divorce on kids, but much of it also includes more general information on divorce and some on the cause of divorce. I came across a statistic recently that stated that Facebook usage was cited in 20% of all divorce cases in the United States (http://www.thetelecomblog.com/2011/03/08/facebook-will-ruin-your-marriage/). I don’t know if that’s true. I did not check it out or verify it for myself because the actual statistic is not a salient part this article. It did get me thinking though. I do believe that Facebook and the relationships formed on Facebook are becoming an increasing problem for marriages in our society. Before I get into that, though, I feel like I should lay a couple of things on the table:
- I am not anti-Facebook. I believe Facebook, and other social networks can be a useful tool.
- I have been on Facebook and Twitter for several years and find both very useful.
- I do believe there is a danger in social networking just like any other circumstance you can put yourself in.
- I believe that Facebook allows you to put yourself in danger more easily than in the past because it’s ready availability and the fact that you can use it in the comfort of your own home.
- Whether the number marriages destroyed, at least in part, is 20%, 10%, 5% or 2% does not matter. What matters is your personal circumstance.
- I do not believe that, in all cases, Facebook is the sole contributing factor to the demise of these marriages, but it can serve as the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
- I believe that there are marriages that might otherwise have survived which are destroyed by relationships of opportunity that were formed on Facebook.
- My concern is for marriages (and ultimately for protecting the kids that so often suffer when those marriage break up).
- My purpose in writing is not to condemn you, but to warn you.
- I believe that marriage is a covenant between and man and a woman and God, and it is a covenant that must be carefully guarded and protected from external and internal forces which seek to destroy it.
- For those marriages where children are involved, the risks are even greater because the result affects additional people.
- I believe that all marriages are salvageable, no matter how desperate they might seem, because I believe that our God can do anything.
So, the question we want to ask today – the question you need to address head on, is:
Who are you talking to on Facebook that you shouldn’t be?
Along with that question, you should ask, How open are you about your facebook account? Does your spouse know everything you do online? How would they react if they did know?
It would seem that the safety of sitting behind a keyboard and a computer monitor emboldens people to do things that they likely wouldn’t otherwise. The fact of the matter is, if you are talking to someone on Facebook that you shouldn’t be, you probably know it, and you may very well have had to work hard to convince yourself that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing. If you find yourself thinking,
“It’s just talking,”
“At least we’re not meeting in person,”
you may be heading down the track on a train you have no business on that will eventually crash and lead to the destruction of your family.
Dr. Steve Kimmons, of Loyola University Medical Center, explains one version of the process:
One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact.
The fact of the matter is, most people who go down this road don’t set out on a journey towards sin or unfaithfulness. Dr. Kimmons goes on to explain:
I don’t think these people typically set out to have affairs. A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say ‘hello’ and catch up on where that person is and how they’re doing.
Those initial contacts lead to deeper conversations and eventually to destruction. “It just happens” you might say. The fact of the matter is, the way to keep it from happening is to not begin the journey in the first place. Or, if you’re already on that journey, to end it immediately.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself to determine if you may have a problems that could lead to the destruction of your covenant marriage:
- Am I talking to people online that I know I should not be or my spouse would be upset about?
- Am I keeping any conversations/interactions that I have online secret from my spouse?
- Do I delete chat conversations, posts or message to make sure my spouse doesn’t see them?
- Am I talking to people online about problems in my marriage rather than addressing them with my spouse?
- Am I sharing intimate details of my life with someone online?
- Do I find myself defensive about this article or others who suggest I should not be talking to certain people?
- Would I be offended or worried if my spouse logged into my account to see what I was doing?
- Do I find a sense of fulfillment or happiness in Facebook that has been lacking in my marriage?
- Do I use Facebook as a means of avoiding my spouse?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, I would suggest that you reconsider you online activity and rededicate yourself to your marriage. Here are some suggestions on how to do that:
- Tell your spouse your passwords.
- Invite your spouse to check out your account and don’t get upset if they take you up on it.
- Talk to your spouse about your online activity.
- If you “have to” send a message to someone your spouse might find objectional, copy your spouse on the message.
- Unfriend people that you have no business being involved with.
- Cancel your account if need be.
So, does all this seem like overkill? It’s just Facebook after all? Allow me to respond this way. The entire time that I have been thinking about and writing this article, God has laid a particular song on my heart. The song is “Slow Fade” by the group Casting Crowns. The lyrics include the following verse:
The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking
“The journey from your mind into your hands is shorter than you’re thinking.” It is something, and it must be dealt with with a sense of immediacy. Right now, it may seem innocent enough, but left to fester and grow that innocent conversation can grow into something far from innocent.
“Be careful if you think you stand. You might just be sinking.” If you’re thinking, “none of this applies to me, I can control it,” then think again! The future of your marriage, your family, your kids and your kids’ futures may very well depend on it.
Here is the rest of that song: