Smartphones are easily one of the most impactful inventions of the recent decades. With just a smartphone and a data plan, any user can figuratively carry the wealth of human knowledge right in their pocket.
These devices also give us nearly instantaneous access to every other person who also has a device. Worldwide.
But that amazing degree of access also carries major risks for the person struggling through a divorce.
Everything is on social media. And everyone.
According to Backlinko, the average person has 8.6 social media accounts spread across various platforms. This is up from 4.6 in 2014. So not only are people exposing more of their inner life to outside users, but they are spreading it across multiple avenues.
Part of the appeal behind social media is that it can create a space that feels very personal to users. And added privacy controls magnify that effect to the point where a user can feel like they’re just “another face in the crowd.”
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
How many people do you know currently trapped in a massive ring of drama created over something someone said on social media? How many couples do you know who have had fights over something that was posted? Or who like what status?
There is a saying that “the internet never forgets” and that should be no clearer than it is now with a new celebrity tweet or post being unearthed from years ago and splashed across the headlines. It seems like we can’t turn on the news without seeing someone apologizing for something they posted online years before and was just discovered now.
Well, the same problems can happen with a divorce. Whatever gets posted on social media can quickly find itself in front of the court, in all it’s word-for-word glory.
Let’s look at some issues and how to avoid them.
Social media mistakes during a divorce and how to avoid them
Indiscretion – As the divorce becomes your reality, you may find yourself with an urge to update your relationship status. To share “the bad news” with family and friends. Well, the problem is the way in which you do that describing can end up getting you into hot water. Trashing your soon-to-be-ex-spouse online can open the door to all sorts of additional questions and can also show the court exactly what kind of person you are. Instead of trashing, take advantage of the opportunity and set a proper tone, especially if kids are involved.
Bad-mouthing – Just like the previous caution, verbally bashing your ex has never been easier. Spreading ill will was a lot tougher before social media. Now, no one is stopping you from speaking your mind but try more old-fashioned methods like having drinks with a few friends. Lay it out on the table and leave it there. Why leave it on the internet where it becomes as permanent as the sun? Always remember, if it’s on the internet then it’s forever.
Oversharing – Once your thumbs start rolling or your fingers start typing, there is no limit to how much you can end up sharing with your world these days. Again, once it is on the internet, it stays there. Unloading your dirty laundry will not make you look good. Would you like your boss to see your “venting”? How about someone who doesn’t even know you but may be looking to hire you? Maybe a future relationship interest will see it. All of that is the least of your worries. Posts about spending or dating might affect your settlement or custody agreement. Social media evidence is being used in court more and more today. Why incriminate yourself?
Snooping – Accessing password protected information without permission is shady, not to mention potentially illegal. That said, it will not do you any good to be spending time scrolling through your ex’s posts or investigating every new friend. It certainly is no way to move on with your life.
Severing all ties – Blocking an ex on social media can certainly be cathartic. Before you do such a thing, though, it is a good idea to stop and think about what kind of relationship you will need to have with your ex, going forward. Co-parenting will necessitate a certain level of access to one another’s lives. Your ex may or may not be interested in posts about your life but your kids are part of your life so you are going to want to allow your co-parent to see photos and updates.
Vaguebooking – This term refers to a passive-aggressive approach to posting on Facebook where the person intentionally leaves vague messages on their wall. These are posts that clearly have underlying intentions and are begging for attention. For the recently divorced, this can include checking in on a date, posting photos with a new fling or sharing memes about being better off. Your friends and family may not even pick up on it. Maybe, your ex will get the message but the person who stands to lose the most is you. This is childish behavior that will not only drag out the divorce but any chance of moving on.
Divorce lawyers have certainly seen social media creep its way into court in recent years. Still, most of the harm created by this activity will be felt by you and your ex, or worse, your children.
Even in moments of high emotion, never forget where your posts may end up or who may end up reading them. If the thought of your next post being blown up on a projector in front of a packed courtroom makes you uncomfortable… save yourself the embarrassment and just don’t post it.