‘Facebook Cheating’ Is Just as Painful as the Real Thing -- But Should It Be?

Rant 21

cheatingNo doubt, infidelity has been on the rise since social media has sunk its claws into the otherwise somewhat content world. We now pretty much have access to anyone, any time we want. And let's not forget, things are so much easier to say -- whether they're filled with hate or filled with lust -- when you're sitting behind a computer and don't have to face an actual human being. But should "Facebook cheating," i.e., exchanging sexy messages, etc., online -- and online only -- be just as upsetting as the real thing?

Turns out, most people think so.

A new study shows that couples who discover online acts of infidelity are just as upset as if they realized their partner was cheating in real life. Research conducted by Texas Tech University concluded that, although the stages of coping with online cheating are different, the infidelity itself creates a similar emotional experience for the person who was cheated on. Jaclyn Cravens, one of the lead authors of the study, said: "This is very important because there is a line of thought that if the infidelity was discovered online, or confined to online activity, then it shouldn't be as painful."

I can't imagine what it would be like to discover something as awful as this. It would, without question, be incredibly painful and feel like a punch to the gut. But I can't help but wonder if the relationships in which the cheating was solely restricted to the Internet are more salvageable than the ones where actual, physical contact is made.

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By no means am I diminishing "Facebook cheating." Like I said, I'm sure it's absolutely devastating. But the truth is, online, people are completely different people. Clearly, one's "online persona" is a part of them (that may or may not lie dormant) if they have the ability to act a certain way -- but is it the "real" them? And isn't the web, for some, just a really bad way to deal with real life problems they have? For instance, trolls probably aren't as big of assholes in real life, but they're probably not very nice or happy people. Am I making any sense?

I guess this is just another interesting and sad layer that's been added to society, compliments of social media. I certainly don't condone or would want to be on the receiving end of "online infidelity," but maybe the sum is bigger than its parts? Maybe the problem is social media? Maybe people should ... get the hell offline for a while.

Would you be as upset if you found out your partner was "Facebook cheating"?

 

Image via denharsh/Flickr

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