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Online Personas and Cyber Infidelity, Oh My!

A Look at Online Personas and Cyber Infidelity—Oh My!

Cyber Infidelity? Yep, it sure exists.

Years ago, author Sophie Hannah did some research for a book she was writing. And so, she conducted a survey of Twitter, OKCupid and other sites, in conjunction with just plain out and out asking people – is online infidelity worse than in-person infidelity?

Cyber Infidelity
Suspected of Infidelity (Photo credit: Lex Photographic)


Her results were mixed.

Some of the respondents saw less harm in a relationship where the parties never actually, physically, meet. Others saw it as being more or less the same as a physical affair, or at least an emotional one.

Hannah did this research for her book, The Telling Error. She says,

“The thing about Twitter is that everything is on there, so whatever you’re interested in is there.But it is capable of being incredibly nasty. I noticed that whenever somebody either does something wrong or offends somebody, Twitter will form a kind of aggressive, vindictive mob and start slagging off that person. Almost always, the punishment is worse than the crime.”

Cyber Infidelity: Some Takeaways

For bored and isolated people, social media can often serve as a godsend. Yet with worries such as this, spouses might do well to be cautious. Not necessary jealous, but at least to be wondering a bit, if someone spends seemingly forever online. It does not help that a lot of online behaviors encourage an almost addictive obsession. Because we crave the latest tweets.

We can’t wait to read the next gem from the Huffington Post, or take the latest meaningless quiz from Buzz Feed, or try to prank our friends with the most recent fake news from The Onion. And do not get me started on Candy Crush.

Hence the opportunities are all too ample for vulnerable, lonely people to end up typing a little too much with someone else, and for it to turn into sexting and worse.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Making friends online is truly fun and, for a lot of people, the only thing that truly keeps them sane. Consider the shut-in, the 24/7 caregiver, or the spouse of someone on deployment. They probably aren’t getting a lot of opportunities to talk to people within spitting distance of their age group.

And of course there are people who have a significant other who does not share their fandom. Or just plain bored people.

Every single one of these folks is vulnerable, in some way, to this kind of cheating.

I wonder who will tweet The Scarlet Letter now.

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