Slouched in my cushy, cracked leather Jetblue seat, I welcomed the announcement to turn off all wireless devices and pulled out some saved newspaper sections (yes, I still read print!). I landed on a recent New York Times business feature on AOL-Time Warner’s split. Wasn’t that marriage just eight years ago? Then again, eight years is an eternity in technology and now, quite possibly, real-life marriage.
Having just spent the past two weeks in my beloved Massachusetts flying between Beantown and Nantucket and back again, I had a rare opportunity to cover a lot of social mileage. And what I came away with (aside from a few nasty hangovers) left me a bit shell-shocked. My long-standing social circles from the late 90’s were largely intact, but, those weddings I attended or the ones I didn’t get invited to… D.I.V.O.R.C.E.
Then it got me thinking, can modern marriage survive modern technology? More specifically: Can couples remain afloat in a swirling sea of social networking sites?
Think back to how you felt when your desktop speakers blared: You’ve Got Mail! You did have AOL, didn’t you? Heck, just about everyone on the planet had an AOL account. And who didn’t find themselves lurking in a chatroom or two? The never-truly-hip AOL was eventually tainted with the “creep factor” (which has also seeped into Craigslist and a few other sites). Advice to those of you clinging to your @aol.com address: It’s time for change.
Today however we are über-SMS: Socially-Media-Sophisticated. It’s all a gal can do to text, blog and tweet while getting pedicured during her lunch break – with some texts reading more like a Danielle Steel novel. Has our finetuning of online social networking skills awoken others parts of us that, well, were asleep? If so, could that explain the increased divorce rate?
Apparently, yes. The Guardian recently reported that "cyber affairs" are being cited with greater frequency in disruptions of real marriages. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are, according to divorce lawyers, the online enablers.
Lately a handful of married exes and colleagues tracked me down to giddily remind me of their Facebook presence. Here they go again, casting their fishing rods! It’s as if somehow these social networking sites have awarded them a clean slate, granting them a license to, dare I say, stray. I wonder how their wives would feel about their chatting up former gal-pals online? Then again, social networking sites are a boon for desperate housewives.
There’s no question that being part of a supportive, dynamic duo is the preferred way to go. But how do you manage ‘it’ while now having to manage all of ‘them’ (the ‘them’ being all of your new social network pals). Don’t expect any marital wisdom from this princess. I just discovered my less-than-significant other not only has a blog, but belongs to multiple social networks. Hmmm… he ain’t sending me cupcakes.
Maybe social media will run its course and land the same fate as AOL. And maybe marriage, as in staying married, will make a comeback. I will ponder these and other profound thoughts as I prepare to tweet this post.