Divorce: Is Social Media Use to Blame?

Excessive Social Media Use Leads to Relationship Conflicts and Negative Outcomes
1- Two golden wedding rings (Unsplash)

A survey of 205 Facebook users aged 18-82 was conducted using a 16-question online survey to examine whether high levels of Facebook use predicted negative relationship outcomes such as breakup/divorce, emotional cheating, and physical cheating. It was hypothesized that those with higher levels of Facebook use would demonstrate more negative relationship outcomes than those with lower use.

The study then examined whether these relationships were mediated by Facebook-related conflict. Furthermore, the researchers examined the length of the relationship as a moderating variable in the aforementioned model. The results indicate that a high level of Facebook usage is associated with negative relationship outcomes and that these relationships are indeed mediated by Facebook-related conflict. This pattern of relationships only holds for those who are, or have been, in relatively newer relationships of 3 years or less.

Egyptian society has witnessed a significant increase in divorce cases during the last two decades compared to previous years, coinciding with the expropriation of the world's communication sites (social media), the satellite channels and the technological revolutions that the world is witnessing in the present century.

Unrecognizable black woman removing wedding ring from finger, her despaired husband on background (Unsplash)

A technological revolution started in 2006, when the first social networking sites appeared for everyone.  After two years of serving the students of Stanford, Columbia and Yale universities, as well as schoolchildren in the United States of America, Facebook expanded to include the whole world.  It was at about this time that Twitter also appeared.

Egyptians, of course, were not isolated from those defining moments in human history which changed the course of the lives of millions on the globe by infiltrating these sites into all aspects of the lives of people of different nationalities.   However, locally the situation raised a certain problem.

According to the indicators of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, after the emergence of social media, divorce cases rose from 65.5 thousand in 2006 to 84.4 thousand in 2008, while marriages increased in the same period from 522.8 thousand to 614 thousand.

In 2009, divorce cases rose significantly when the number reached 141.5 thousand cases, with the highest rates recorded in 2015 when the number of cases reached 199.9 thousand. Marriage cases amounted to 660.1 thousand and 969 thousand in the same two years, respectively.

By stopping at the year 2015, it becomes clear from the reality of the above figures   that 769.1 thousand families disintegrated.  On a global level, Egypt was at the top with the world's highest divorce rate of 149.3 thousand cases in 2010.

The noticeable increase in the number of divorce cases, according to official statistics, in conjunction with the increase in the number of users of social media, indicates some link between the two phenomena.

Now that in just a few minutes everyone can watch everything that's going on in the world with sound and image, many believe that social media has the largest share in the reasons for the high divorce rates, especially in Egypt. This is shown by the fact that electronic betrayal has become easy, simple and commonplace at the present time.

Parents have relationship issues, arguing and fighting, wreak one's anger on kid  (Unsplash)

Divorce is no longer unattainable for many couples and the last solution they resort to after a bitter life. Rather, it has become like a fashion that has spread with intensity, especially in Egypt in recent years, which has monitored the rise in the highest divorce rates in the world. The strange thing is that most divorce cases occur between newly married couples and not between spouses who spent many years together and decided to end their marriage.

Some also believe that social media has become a means of social distancing and not communication. Its negatives are much greater than its positives because we deal through a virtual world, and therefore experiences in communication, listening to the other and sharing opinions and thoughts diminishes with the consequence that social relations begin to collapse over time.

Not only that, but social media is also considered the reason why some people resent themselves and their lives, because they only see people on it during their outings, and there is happiness and laughter in the photo posted on Facebook or Instagram. We do not know what is the truth or the situation before or after this shot. Perhaps a person who is angry with those who see their pictures is much happier than them, and they only put happiness on display to other people.

Hence, a feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself and life surfaces because we see people who are happier and who have more money than us. This is followed by the emergence of problems in the home, and thus an inability to enjoy life because happiness is linked to satisfaction and attaining the goals that we seek to achieve.

Wives also deal with social media wrongly and always compare themselves with their friends in what they see on Facebook posts, explaining that husbands do not know how to deal with their wives. From the point of view of the man or the woman, the husband cannot understand his wife and appreciate her effort in building a happy life, and also the wife does not succeed in understanding her husband and appreciating his work of providing the perfect life for his family. Another group of people believes that the failure of a large percentage of wives to bear responsibility is also one of the main reasons for the increase in divorce rates.

Infidelity is also believed to be one of the most important reasons for divorce recently due to the massive spread of social media. This gave men the opportunity to enter the virtual world apart from his wife and his family. In other words, they do not take responsibility for marriage, family and children, and think only of taking care of themselves.

Dr. Mahmoud Farag, Doctor of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts, University of Alexandria.

Dr. Mahmoud Farag, Doctor of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts, University of Alexandria, sees that: “Divorce rates are on the rise, especially in cities, higher than in the countryside, due to the complexity of life and the emergence of entertainment and consumption patterns that did not exist in the past. In addition to the fact that satellite channels, with the free ideas they contain, raise the ceiling of the hopes and dreams of men and women. The result is that women seek an easy life with all the pleasures, and this does not agree with the capabilities of young people, so a collision occurs between dream and reality. Young men, on the other hand, dream about the future wife resembling the pictures of female performers who underwent plastic surgery, and thus the young man collides with the woman he married because she does not resemble who he imagined and dreamed of.”

“Additionally, the increase in temptations and ease of online acquaintance between men and women, and virtual life that is not bound by restrictions, facilitates young men and women entering into illegal relationships.  Afterward, the calamity occurs and the virtual world turns into reality. The man rejects his real life, as well as his wife, and the natural result is divorce and family displacement resulting in children who lack the warmth of the family,” he added.

Similarly, Dr. Sara El Naggar, a physician, and psychiatrist who is enrolled in postgraduate psychological and neurological studies, said that social media have played a major role in the recent increase in divorce cases.

El Naggar explained in exclusive statements to Majalla: “It became easy, with a click on a “heart emoji” on the image of a person, you are about to enter into a relationship of admiration, then a love relationship.”

Dr. Sara El Naggar, a physician and psychiatrist who is enrolled in postgraduate psychological and neurological studies.

“As soon as a person communicates with another with a message and greetings, the other one, on the other hand, feels interest and admiration and thus it suggests to him or her that there are a million opportunities to enter into a relationship. The relationship here does not mean building a new house, but a connection to feel a kind of care and love,” she added.

On the impact of divorce on children, she said: “I hope that divorce is the last solution when the spouses feel that it is impossible to live together. Divorce in my view is when the father and mother fail to provide a sense of safety, trust, respect and privacy for their children.”

“When a child lives with a father and mother who are unable to provide him with safety and respect, it is a much worse feeling than separation because family problems are the ones that affect the child the most, not just divorce,” she explained.

Regarding proposed solutions to reduce divorce cases, she said: “Everyone should realize that no human being is flawless. For spouses who have made the decision to divorce, it is necessary to visit a specialist doctor before the divorce in order to understand and realize whether the crisis is with the person himself, his partner or the relationship itself, so that the bad experience does not happen again.  Alternatively, the couple may consult with professionals with psychology qualifications who know a great deal about life experiences before taking the divorce step.”

El Naggar concluded her statement by: “Drama is a reflection of reality, but I see that it does not contribute to an increase in divorce cases. Rather it reflects the reality, and the advice of unqualified people through the “Mummies” groups and other groups on social media may also be a factor making it easier for some to divorce instead of repairing the relationship.  For this reason, couples should take advice from only qualified and competent people.”


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