Sharing is caring, right? On love, Facebook and the Internet

Ever write an email not knowing exactly who you’re sending it to — your friend or her husband? Or this: For a long time, I wondered why my dad was liking most of my photos on Facebook. It just didn’t make sense. Turns out it was really my mom who’s addicted to the thumbs-up icon, and that made more sense. (Hi, Mom! Please Like this post!) My point is, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and the thoughtful folks at Pew Research are in a romantic mood: In the age of the oh-so-important Facebook relationship status, they’re sharing stats about the Internet, social media and affairs of the heart.

Among the findings: The people we know who share email addresses and Facebook accounts and passwords aren’t alone. (Right, they have each other.) More than a quarter of those surveyed by Pew have joint email accounts, and 11 percent have a shared social-media profile. This is especially true for longtime couples. Also, 67 percent of all the couples surveyed have shared passwords to one or more online accounts with their significant others. That might be OK for the “long-partnered” couples, but maybe the others ought to read the cautionary tales in the past few years — such as the ones about love-struck teenagers sharing their passwords as a show of trust, only to be betrayed by both people and technology in the end.

Other findings might sound like they’re telling your whole life: There’s frustration about the amount of time spent on technology, with 25 percent saying their partners are distracted by their cell phones during their time together. There’s good (21 percent say they feel closer to their partners because of texting or online communication); there’s bad (20 percent say tech’s impact on their relationship was mostly negative); there’s hanky panky (In 2013, 9 percent of adult cell-phone owners said they have engaged in sexting, up from 6 percent in 2012).

The summary of Pew’s findings is here.

And in case you find this subject irresistible, here are a couple of older but related links. The Merc’s Julia Prodis Sulek wrote about a couple who found true love on, then almost lost it over a Facebook fling. And the New York Times wrote about how social media and other online communications, such as incriminating texts and emails, can make breaking up (and divorcing) hard to do.


Illustration from KRT archives


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