Social Networking For better or for worse

posted on 18 January 2011 by Joanne Pontée

Whilst reading the paper this weekend two stories caught my eye, they were both about the same subject but from completely opposing angles - social media and its impact on the nation's love lives.

The first story was about the re-launch of a location based "flirting" website now called Floxx.  The website allows user to anonymously post descriptions of people they find attractive, which are then placed on that particular location feed. It was originally launched under the politically incorrect name of FitFinder by Rich Martell, a student at UCL. Although it managed to rack up 5 million hits from 50 different universities, it also attracted a storm of controversy with accusations that it treated people like objects and was just a bit too creepy. The plug was pulled on the project after the University threatened to expel its creator. However, a former Dragon's Den panellist, Doug Richard, got to hear of the venture and contacted Rich with an offer of funding and it was reborn as Floxx.  It'll be interesting to see if it takes off, but I can't help wondering just how much of a distraction it will prove to be for students in university libraries who are supposed to be studying books rather than each other!   

Stone _heartTurning over, just a page further, was a story about how UK lawyers are seeing a big rise in divorce petitions involving Facebook in the post-Christmas divorce rush. I didn't realise that the festive season could take such a hefty toll on relationships or how serious the repercussions of an ill thought out present or over cooked dry turkey could be!  The number of divorce cases citing evidence from social networking sites has increased dramatically in the past few years. In a survey carried out last year by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 66% of respondents indicated that Facebook was a "primary source for compromising information", MySpace followed with 15% and Twitter stood at 5%.  Divorce lawyers now spend a significant amount of time trawling through profiles to find evidence of misdemeanours or of unreasonable behaviour including flirtatious messages.    In some instances, the use of social media is actually being blamed for causing the actual breakdown of the relationships. Remember all the stories circulating a few years ago about "Friends Reunited" being used to contact old flames and first loves? Well Facebook is now in the frame too, for apparently tempting people to flirt online and leading them astray.

So there you have it, two stories over two pages, demonstrating how social networking has become so embedded into many people's daily lives, that it can even help to make or break our closest personal relationships.