Since the explosion of the world wide web and the introduction of social media took us by storm in the late 90’s, such revolutionary sites like MySpace, Facebook and Instagram have opened up “pandora’s box” to the world of digital communicating and meeting people from all walks of life around the world.
With its many amazing benefits, social media platforms present a set of challenges as well to the modern man or woman as it relates to dating and relationships. Lines are blurred, expectations are intensified and the “allowable”, “appropriate” behavior deemed by society’s norms becomes somewhat questionable.
So, let’s ask ourselves: What is “appropriate” behavior for a man/woman who is deemed “committed” in the real world? When is this line crossed as it pertains to social media? And most importantly: Are we even aware that we are doing something “wrong”- when it is?
Relationships between people whether it is a long term commitment, marriage, or other serious union has alway been a complicated matter of the heart. It is a known fact that cheating has existed since the dawn of days and is not going away any time soon. As humans we all have individual opinions of what this entails- whether we view betrayal in the physical act or way before that. But what happens when we are engaging the opposite sex’s attention online?
The internet and particularly social media can give us an extra layer of freedom, a false perception of “not getting caught” while being engaged probably in significantly riskier behavior than we would allow ourselves in the real world.
SO, when is one really crossing the line when it comes to maintaining monogamy in real life?
Let’s review some real life examples:
Guy A: is in a committed relationship that is heading towards a long lasting union. He browses the web, social media sites,“be-friends” several beautiful girls, likes their pictures. He sees nothing wrong with this. They are just pictures after all-he says!
Girl A: Has been with her boyfriend for a number of years. She has several online friends of the opposite sex who she occasionally chats with. One day, she gets in a fight with her boyfriend and decides to message one of her online buddies for consolation. No biggie-she thinks.
Guy B: This guy is newly married. He is an extrovert online and sees nothing wrong with liking, messaging female friends. To spice up his life, he asks them for provocative pictures. No foul done- right?
Girl B: Has been married for 10 years. Her marriage is stable but has lost its spark. So, one day one of her online chat buddies asks her for lunch- she agrees (not thinking that there is anything wrong with this).
Guy/Girl C: Goes out to dinner with an online fling AND it leads to more.
These are all real life scenarios that you can come across or you have heard your online neighbor talk about. At least one person among your social media friends has gone through this or knows someone that has. So, where is the harm, you ask? What is appropriate according to society today? Personal beliefs? Individual opinion?
When are we crossing the line? Is it when we literally cross it from digital to physical? Or is it way sooner? Is digital media making it easier for us to be unfaithful without feeling guilty for it?
The answers to these questions may very well be just as blurry as the act of “digital flings” themselves. After all, in real life we know what is expected, we’ve been taught the norm. It has been around for centuries. The digital world however has only existed 20 some odd years.
Perhaps there is a different rule book we must follow, or maybe not?
The choice is yours.