Thursday, September 24, 2009

Facebook and online sharing

I clicked on this article on msn the other day titled: “Why you should snoop on your spouse online.” It caught my attention for several reasons. The first is that the radio show I listen to during my morning commute talked about it the previous day. They posed the question of what you would do if your partner asked if they could read your email—just so they felt assured. There were mixed responses. Those against it cited the issue of trust and those for it or who didn’t care said they had nothing to hide.

The guy who wrote the article above, a sex therapist and relationship counselor makes some interesting arguments against the notion of internet privacy in a relationship. He says that the internet is a new technology which has brought a different dimension to relationships, and a greater threat of infidelity (especially the emotional kind) and the rules of conduct have not really been established. He says that sometimes snooping is the right thing to do; and while he agrees that privacy should be respected, there must also be an “open-book-nothing-to-hide” policy.

It is probably a little different for couples who are just dating, but I know a lot of married couples who are totally open about that kind of thing: they know the other’s passwords, they answer the other’s cell phone, and maybe even share a Facebook page. My husband and I are pretty open (though I don’t want him to read my blog—teehee). I know his passwords and he knows mine; he rarely gets on my email account (I think), only if I tell him to read something specific. I get on his once in a while (not as much as he seems to think), usually to check what time he plays soccer on Sunday or to read something he said was funny. We leave our phones lying around. I have access to his bank account (because I pay bills), he complains that he doesn’t have access to mine—he knows where I keep all that info and he doesn’t pay bills, but if he wants to get on—go for it.

I kind of like the “nothing-to-hide” camp, I would be a little wary of a husband who wanted to keep everything secret, who locked his phone or computer or who was adamant about not sharing his password… but at the same time I might bristle a little if I thought he were rummaging through my emails or phone contacts in a suspicious way, but if he is, I have no idea and there is nothing interesting anyway.

Of course this is the same relationship therapist who days earlier suggested “unfriending” your spouse on Facebook because it brings a degree of banality to the relationship and detracts from the sense of mystery (for which he was brutally barraged with nasty emails and that is why he felt compelled to further explain his views on online dangers).

The other reason the article caught my attention is that it reminds me of the history of me and the hubs on the infamous Facebook…

Though I am not on Twitter, I AM (hemming and hawing) on the infamous Facebook. And no I am not 13, ok! I had little clue and even less interest in social networking sites until fairly recently. My hubs, caved to pressure from his native country of Chile, where apparently, Facebook is all the rage. All of his friends and family from Chile were telling him he absolutely had to get a Facebook page… and so he did.

This is mostly funny, because if you knew my hubs at all, you would know that he rarely can be bothered to return an email. His family usually emails me or at least copies to me so that they know someone will read their precious words and get back to them. My husband is a very flaky correspondent—that’s just how he is—you have to accept it and love him anyway. So, I asked to check out his page, to see what the fuss was all about. He obliged. I suggested he upload a picture for his profile. He said: “Oh, can you do that for me?” Then I said he should upload some pics of the kids and he said "Oh, can you do that for me?" I told him he had to accept so-and-so’s friend invitation… and he said… you guessed it: “Oh, can you do that for me?”

So I mocked him mercilessly for days about being on Facebook (because he is not 13 either and because it was just one more way for him…. To NOT keep in touch with people). I mocked him while I happily updated his profile, accepted invitations, and invited his friends and family to share the online love. It was like our shared Facebook page and it was beautiful.

And then he got an invitation to friendship from an old girlfriend from high school. This mostly didn’t bother me except once back in Santiago he had been catching up with her on the phone, while I waited at his house (for over an hour!), and he shared a little too much with her (I thought) about his feelings about our (mine and his) relationship—which crossed some little line in my mind and really bothered me…and I ended up leaving in an (outraged) huff (am I coming off as too dramatic?)

So the Facebook friendship didn’t really bug me until he got a Facebook message from her basically telling him that she never stopped loving him blah blah yadda yadda. Ok, that bugged me and I told him that it bugged me. I mean, what the crap, man??? That is the kind of stuff that you keep to yourself because you are married and the guy you are still pining after and secretly hoping for some sign of reciprocation is married and it’s INAPPROPRIATE… but maybe it’s just me.

So the hubs says: … “What are you doing on my Facebook anyway?”

(Ok, Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t have read a personal message…)

So I said very apologetically: “You know what? Keep your stupid Facebook page, I am going to get my own, and I am going to upload tons of cute pics and who is going to keep your page up? And I am NOT going to invite you to be my friend.” (because I am really petty like that! Haha).

And that is how I ended up on Facebook! (and I did eventually let him be my friend)… (and I invited a sort of ex to be my friend just to chap his hidebecause I am petty like that—sorry, I hope I haven’t let you down).

Isn’t that a heart-warming story?

Ok, so now that you know how fun it is to be married to me, where do you stand?: open-book or ok with online secrecy? Somewhere in the middle with limits and boundaries?

Facebook friends with the significant other or not? (honestly, I think it depends on how “banal” your Facebook page is, but that is another post because this one is already soooooo loooong).


mosey along said...

I'm in the "nothing to hide" camp too. We have a common email address, although we both have our own as well. But if he wanted to read it, I'd let him.

I do occasionally clear my browser cache though, just in case he happens to get on my computer and notices how often I look at photos of Robert Pattinson. That is a JOKE, btw. Although he is dreamy for a 23 year old even though I'm old enough to be his mother. And this might rank in the "too much information" camp so good night.

mosey along said...

Hey, my verification was barday (bar day)! I'm sensing a theme here....

Annje said...

and now I have to find out who Robert Pattinson is...

Maggie May said...

i've been thinking about this a lot lately. no answers, but thinking about this same thing. i've never been cheated on or 'tricked' in any way but still, like the therapist says, the internet changes things a million times over. it's confusing.

Danielle said...

Josh and I are pretty open. He did sort of ask his ex-wife to be friends according to him by accident. I don't really care too much. I've had a few ex-boyfriends try to contact me and I just ignore them. He has actually had small conversations with two exes. I'm not worried in the least, but it kind of bugs. We know each others passwords and stuff. His e-mail is far too boring for me to want to look through.

Margaret said...

Wow... I have never even thought about this! Which is even further proof that my husband is even less computer techie than yours is... He does email, but has absolutely no interest whatsoever in Facebook--a waste of time, he says, which, of course, it usually is... Would I friend him if he were into it? Yeah, I would...not much to hide around here!

La Chilengüita said...

I've never thought about this really. My husband and I have our separate account and don't know each others passwords at all. But we do share important emails and he's always upfront in telling me if an ex emails him or if he is going to have lunch with friends who are women. I don't have problems with it. I wonder what he'd think of the article since he specialized in internet security hahaha. Although one thing that I think is important is trusting your partner, I mean, that is part of marriage. You can't be with that person 24/7 and must trust them and their actions. I kind of feel like the same goes for email.

Wendi said...

I have nothing too hide. My husband would probably fall asleep if he looked at my FB.

And Twitter is actually pretty fun--I never thought I'd say that.

redqueencjb said...

This post is amazing and brings up great points. But first, your husband reminds me of my boyfriend A LOT. Holy cow.

Anyway, I struggle with the whole check-my-email, answer-my-phone thing not because I don't want to share that information (I honestly don't care), but I do have kind of a stick up my wa-hoo about maintaining my own identity. And for some reason, to me, that seems to impinge on that a little.

Anyway I had more to say but realized I'm late for (another) meeting. Ah, graduate school.