Our distinguished guest Deborah Mecklinger writes about the bitter twitter of Divorce…Please leave comments for our guest articles. Thank you.
On March 2, 2009 Greg Rewis asked Stephanie Sullivan for her hand in marriage via Twitter. The twitter-world was witness to Stephanie’s acceptance and the instant on-line buzz of their impending nuptials. It took only two status updates for the social-networking geeks to agree to spend the rest of their lives together. How many characters will it take for a tweet to buzz that a spouse is no longer in love?
If a Twitter micro-blog is long enough to propose marriage, are 140 characters or less sufficient to untie the knot? Will spouses soon be receiving notice that their marriage is over in the heat of a Tweet? Is ones’ decision to divorce a news item that is likely to be tweeted to a former lovebird instead of shared through conversation? Is what was once a private matter between spouses now news for mass consumption?
As we move through life at the speed of lightening, will relationships be at risk of ending even more quickly, impersonally and more publicly with the click of a twit? Is interplay of speed and reach-ability likely to leave lovers in the lurch?
As we witness the groundbreaking evolution of technology growing faster than we can tweet, the opportunity to misuse and abuse digital communication is seductive. If part of Twitter’s magic is that it connects the masses online, remember that matters of the heart are often best-shared offline. When it comes to the dissolution of a marriage and cutting the bonds of matrimony, spouses are advised to steer clear of Twitter to avoid being bitter. Don’t dare to Tweet what you should speak. Use the following tips to maintain grace, save face and keep your divorce out of cyberspace. When it comes to divorce, DO NOT use Twitter to:
1 Break News: Don’t break your story with a Tweet. Instead, speak.
2 Spread News: Be discreet and keep your story in house. This is not the time to build an audience or extend your audience.
3 Find followers: Don’t use social networking to support your position.
4 Gather Information: Don’t conduct public opinion polls about your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
5 Speed-link: Don’t use Twitter to enter your Ex’s world or infringe on his/her boundaries, friendships or connections.
6 Vent: Don’t be a twit and share your snit or have a twit-fit about your Ex.
7 Build Your Brand: Create your newfound image off-line. Don’t be a hitter via Twitter in the midst of divorce. Be elegant and develop your new psyche and persona out of the public domain.
8 Follow a Twitter Divorce Leader: If your ex-spouse is tweeting about you, don’t be a Twitter Copycat.
9 Set The Record Straight: A single tweet will live forever. Watch it show up in affidavits, court documents and in the hands of friends, family, co-workers, children and the world at large.
10 Noise making: Don’t get sidetracked by Twitter chaos. In the midst of divorce the multitude of messages can be confusing and overwhelming. Keep it simple and stay focused. Leave Twitter for later.
When it comes to conversation, promotion, and networking, Twitter is King. When it comes to Divorce, discretion, respect and privacy are fighting to reign supreme. While Twitter is fun, engaging and quickly replacing daily conversation, divorce is a process that requires mindfulness and intentionality when communicating and sharing. The temptation to use Twitter in ways that may result in unwanted consequences is particularly seductive for the separating spouse whose self-management skills may be compromised by the divorce process. To ward off the opportunity to Tweet down the wrong street, put Twitter on hold until your Divorce process folds.
Deborah Mecklinger, LL.B., M.S.W., A.T.C.