I have a love-hate relationship with social media, as I’m sure many of us do. On the one hand, social media is a connection to the entire world at our fingertips and a platform to share our truths. But the problem is that those very connections have also given people access to others in a way that is much too easy if people want to use it for the wrong reasons.
Before social media, infidelity had a much simpler definition. It basically meant that you physically cheated on your spouse or partner. But with social media, infidelity has gotten so much more complicated and accessible.
Social media has blurred the line of what infidelity is and now people get away with so much more than they could have before these digital platforms became popular.
Could you imagine walking by a stranger and telling them, “You’re hot!” in the middle of the sidewalk? Or would it appropriate to be with your wife and tell a random woman how sexy she looks in her bikini and blow her a kiss? Not only would that not be normal, it would be cat-calling and probably considered sexual harassment.
But on social media, it’s perfectly alright to “like” someone’s picture, comment on their body and send sexy or heart emojis, whether it’s to a complete stranger or a casual acquaintance. Social media has normalized a married man liking or commenting on a picture of a woman wearing nothing but a thong. And that is just the beginning.
Somehow, it’s justified to direct message a person that you might find attractive, to talk, to flirt and to send pictures of each other, just because you are not doing anything in person. And any anger at the action is considered overreacting. The person betrayed is called sensitive and jealous.
“It’s not a big deal. It’s not like I cheated on you,” is the most common defense. But isn’t it still a betrayal of trust, even if the infidelity is committed online?
However, there was even a study that was conducted by Russel Clayton that showed the damaging effects of social media to real life relationships. Though this study focused more on Twitter, it might be even more common on platforms such as Instagram, that are based solely on pictures.
What’s more important is that cheating and infidelity sometimes starts off small. It starts off as an innocent greeting, maybe a heart-eyed emoji. Then flirting and messages back and forth. People go from sharing pictures of food and outfits to pictures of things much more private.
What’s worse is that infidelity doesn’t just mean a sexual attraction to someone who is not your spouse. Social media has increased emotional infidelity as well. It has increased the chances of creating an emotional attachment, sharing secrets and feeling deeply connected to someone else, all in the name of an innocent online friendship.
Engaging with people online, sexually or otherwise, is all under the social media facade of perfection. People are connecting to altered photos and “perfect” personas, which causes them to feel attached to an unrealistic person, because they only see the positive aspects of someone’s life.
On top of that, people get to create an idealized image of themselves as well, which leads to a so-called perfect connection with someone else. So people chase a false dream to escape the realness of their own relationships, all under the assumption that an online relationship doesn’t count as infidelity.
So, I don’t care what anyone says, infidelity online and infidelity in person are both equally bad. Both are equally powerful enough to ruin relationships. So the next time you think it’s okay to privately message someone or comment on the hotness of someone other than your spouse, I suggest you think again.
It’s better to have a real and honest relationship with your spouse than a perfectly fake relationship with someone else. Because that relationship will also come to an end when the facade is lifted.
It’s time to stop normalizing infidelity and focus on our real relationships.