Tweeting and cheating are now linked, at least according to the University of Missouri's new study “The Third Wheel: The Impact of Twitter Use on Relationship Infidelity and Divorce.” This study comes after other studies found that divorce numbers are higher than one might think.
Research by the University of Missouri found that Twitter users are more likely to cheat and find divorce, especially as conflict arises with their romantic relationships.
“The introduction of social networking sites (SNSs) such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter have provided a relatively new platform for interpersonal communication and, as a result, have substantially enhanced and altered the dynamics of interpersonal relationships,” the study said.
Russell Clayton, who conducted the research, said in a statement that cutting back on Twitter and social media might help solve the problems created when it comes to relationships.
“Although a number of variables can contribute to relationship infidelity and separation, social networking site usage, such as Twitter and Facebook use, can be damaging to relationships,” Clayton said in the statement. “Therefore, users should cut back to moderate, healthy levels of Twitter use if they are experiencing Twitter or Facebook-related conflict.”
But is the study #wrong?
Amanda Hess, a writer for Slate, explained that too many questions and holes remain from the study, and that it’s too hard to really assess Twitter’s effects on social lives when someone doesn’t dedicate their entire life to Twitter.
“What the study didn’t do was compare the relationship problems of Twitter users with people who don’t use the network at all,” Hess wrote. “It also didn’t ask about relationship problems that arise outside of Twitter — at the office, over email, over the phone, at the gym or on online dating sites, for example. So we don’t know if Twitter increases incidents of emotional or physical cheating. All we know is that Twitter increases the likelihood of emotional or physical cheating occurring via Twitter.”
Hess also wrote that society has changed significantly with the growth of social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, which means Twitter is like any other community.
“So that puts Twitter on the same level as all other forms of human interaction,” Hess wrote. “If we can start to think about Twitter like any other community, telling people to log off to stop cheating sounds completely ludicrous.”
And writer Jon Terbush of The Week also didn’t agree with the study’s finding.
“You should absolutely expect that people who use Twitter more often would have more ‘Twitter-related conflicts’ since there are simply more opportunities for those problems to arise,” Terbush wrote. “Same goes for cheating: If you never engage with people on Twitter, you're probably not going to hook up with anyone via Twitter either.”
Terbush also wrote that the study pointed out an entirely different fact about relationships.
“Phrased another way,” Terbush wrote, “the study essentially concluded, ‘People who ignore their partners to spend more time interacting with other people are more likely to have problems with their partners.’ ”