Social Media and the Need to Bite Our Tongues
“In the heated state of mind, your mind controls your actions” – anonymous
It is now the norm to begin our days with social media … and end them with social media. We validate our lives and our opinions on it and we jest (knowing it to partially true) that “if its not on social media then it did not really happen”.
When a relationship breaks down, there are many emotions that surround that event and its not always with relief and hope for a better life. Often with change comes resentment and sadness, generally channelled towards the ex-partner and/or the catalyst that caused the relationship to break down. Words get posted, feelings get hurt and instead of working towards a healthier future for each other, you decide that the other person deserves to be treated with passive, and sometimes overt, aggression.
Jill and Paul had met in high school and they got married young and started a family soon after. They migrated from Scotland to Australia and Jill was sad to leave her family behind but Paul had decided to enlist in the Australian Defence Force. They moved to Brisbane, Australia and a few years later, the relationship broke down.
Paul’s job took him to New South Wales and Jill stayed in Brisbane with their 8 and 6 year old son and daughter. Although their relationship was an unhappy one, Jill felt that she had the raw end of the deal because she had uprooted her life and left her family in Scotland for no reason. Paul just wanted to get on with his career and his life and be the best dad he could be. They planned for the children to visit him in the school holidays and during the Christmas holidays.
Jill and Paul belong to the Facebook generation. Paul began a relationship with a beautiful blonde and was very free with posting his new life on line. Jill started posting barbed remarks about what a failure he had been in their relationship, and decided to reminisce about all the bad times with posts of pictures with captions like, “thank god I don’t have to live this anymore”. Jill refused to pay half the airline fares to send the children down to see Paul because “if he has enough money to go on trips with his new girlfriend, then he must have money to pay for his children to see him”.
When Paul would talk to his children, they started saying things like, “don’t you love us anymore?” and “why do you have money to see your girlfriend and not us?” and “why don’t we matter to you anymore?”. This started a social media war-fare between Jill and Paul, and the decision to work together for the welfare of the children went by the wayside.
Jill and Paul got lawyers to see what their rights were with regards to the property pool and the children. Their fight was now on social media for all to see and it became a matter of pride and ego. Money from the very small property was spent on their lawyers writing to each other and soon the property pool was depleted.
Social media connects us all, and friends take sides – before the situation can be contained, the opinions and emotions that go with it trickle down to the children. Denigrating the other parent is a strict ‘no-no’ when you are co-parenting and is a form of family violence. The parents will eventually recover from their quips and barbs but the children will not.
Relationships end and there is a process to deal with grief and loss, but it’s not on social media. Choose to move on past the broken relationship and into a better future for you and your family off-screen, and with pride and eloquence that will not only save your relationship with your children, but also save you a lot of money in unnecessary legal bills.