Maybe you have married friends. Maybe they fight on Facebook. But the next time you comment "Please shut up" on one of their interminable wall fights, consider the case for Facebook fighting.
Today the New York Times delves into the phenomenon of married and engaged couples fighting on Facebook. A theme running through the Times piece is that griping about your mate publicly on Facebook can be damaging not just to individual marriages, but to the very institution of marriage itself. We learn that "Some marriage experts say" Facebook fighting "represents a gradual but significant degredation of our regard for marriage"
Says one expert:
'From the Victorian era through the 1950s, marriage was viewed as the source of all safety from a predatory world..' Striving for that ideal, he said, meant keeping your disagreements private, 'to keep a public face of harmony.'
Yes, remember the good old days when a man was a Man and a woman was chattel? We are not married, though, so we don't care about how this affects married couples or marriage. We want to know how it affects us, the miserable single person forced to hear about our friends' miserable marriages.
Facebook increases transparency in marriage disputes. Paradoxically, this is good for us! The article suggests that marital warfare waged on Facebook leads to unnecessary civilian casualties in the friends and strangers whose newsfeed are overrun with bickering. But couple fights have always drawn in the hapless best friend, the cross-country cousin and the stranger overhearing their phone conversations in the grocery line. With Facebook there's at least a clear record of the various untruths and rhetorical sleights-of-hand that have been used for millennia by disgruntled S.O.s to win adherents to their particular vision of why the other person fucked up. Now, if you happen to be caught in the middle of another insufferable "I'm right, right?" fight, you need no longer rely on your friend's narrow perspective. Maybe their spouse has a point? Maybe your friend actually is a huge dick? It is now up to you to tell him why and, thus, save the marriage.
More importantly, for people who just want to escape their friends' disputes unscathed, a fight waged on Facebook crowdsources the damage. You might be pissed when someone you don't care about starts bickering on Facebook with their wife who you care even less about. But imagine you did care about these people. The confidants who, pre-Facebook, would be saddled with the duty of sole arbitrator and fellow combatant are relieved of some of the terrible burden of hearing the same story about how awful he/she is over and over until they start pretending to forget English to stop it. It's everyone's business, now. Good riddance.
Even we never thought we'd say this, but Facebook fighting has its upsides. Maybe not for the married couple. But for the innocent bystander, Facebook increases our ability to respond to the situation in a productive manner and distributes the responsibility for cleaning up other peoples' messes to the crowd.
Twitter marriage fights? Is that a thing yet?