Columnists

Social media abuse hurting marriages

EMELDA Musonda.

Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA
AS GOOD as technological advancements may be, they do come with their own challenges.Technological advancements can either be a blessing or a curse.
While the advent of social media, which encompasses platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Tweeter, telegram, Instagram, SMS, among others, has positively transformed human interactions, it has also negatively impacted many facets of life, and marriage is one of them.
Today many couples are drifting apart due to social media and Christians have not been spared.
During the recent Grace Ministries International Exploits centre couples’ luncheon, the topic was top on the agenda.
Couples that attended were given an opportunity to bring out both negative and positive effects of social media on marriage.
All responses pointed to the fact that despite social media being a good tool which could be used to enhance couples’ relationships, it was rather proving detrimental to marriage.
Today, most people who are tech savvy, the married inclusive, have unconsciously slipped into the social media addiction trap.
In pursuit of entertainment that social media provides at one’s fingertips, many people have become more attached to their phones than they are to their spouses.
One does not need to conduct research to ascertain people’s levels of addiction to their phones, it is blatantly evident.
Wherever one stands, whether in a home, workplace, church or any other public place, it is easy to see the impact of social media on marriages.
Some of the submissions during the couples’ luncheon indicated that when spouses wake up in the morning, the first thing they attend to is the phone.
As they drive to work (for those who use the same vehicle), instead of conversing, they are busy on phones.
During meals, couples are still busy on their phones. This extends to the bedroom, where spouses carry phones right into the bed for continued social interactions.
There are also couples, despite making an effort to go out for a date, while in a restaurant, they spend more time looking through their phones than they do conversing.
To validate this, one just needs to camp in a busy restaurant and observe couples.
Today husbands and wives alike find it easy to be online 24 hours chatting to their wider social networks than converse with their spouses.
Unfortunately, this is creating rifts among couples, increasing the chances of marriage failure.
Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde said, “Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”
Sadly, while many spouses are strengthening their bonds with outer social networks through social media interactions, those with their spouses are being weakened by the day.
Building strong bonds and marriages requires couples to spend quality time together.
Through social media, intimacy is also no longer a preserve of spouses, as it is shared with a wider social network.
The kind of materials that people share on social media also defies the laws of intimacy among couples. There are sensitive things that only couples should ordinarily share. But you find such things being shared indiscriminately from those that are single to the married or vice versa or from the married to the married.
This is also contributing to infidelity. The amount of indecent exposure on social media is corrupting many people’s morals, thereby opening doors for infidelity.
It is also true to say that depraved individuals have found social media to be an ideal tool for self-advertisement. Those who are morally weak end up becoming victims.
Whether founded or unfounded, social media has also become a breeding ground for suspicions and jealousies in marriage.
Depending on the time one spends on social media and their secretiveness, the other half is likely to become suspicious and jealous. This is detrimental to a healthy marriage.
In the United States a study found a correlation between social media use and divorce rates. The study, published in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal, compared state-by-state divorce rates to per-capita Facebook accounts.
The study found a link between social media use and decreased marriage quality in every model analysed. It also found that a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrolment was associated with a 2.18 percent to 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates.
The study’s model from the individual survey results predicts that people that do not use social media are 11 percent happier in their marriages than people that regularly use social media.
Given such statistics, the solution to the negative impact of social media on marriage lies on individuals regulating its use.
Couples need agree and draw parameters on how to use social media. There is need for couples to manage social media rather than vice versa.
Couples can agree to restrict access to social media for certain periods on a given day, especially mornings and evenings, to allow for quality time together.
Individual spouses also need to be resolute on using social media in a constructive and moderate manner.
For instance, spouses can use social media to stay connected to their partners during work hours or when one has travelled out as opposed to entertaining or being entertained by one’s social networks.
If one was to evaluate the things they spend time on, on social media, they would discover that most of them add very little or no value to their lives and they are not worth sacrificing their marriage for.
In all sincerity; social media is not the problem here, but the people that abuse it at the expense of their own marriages and families.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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