One of the most common ways to engage socially with one another in this day and age is over social media. When it comes to interacting with other people the pandemic caused at least a temporary shift and how we go about communicating with one another as well as in how we think about our need to be social as human beings. While many people probably will never recover in terms of their willingness or ability to engage socially with others, I think the vast majority of us have seen that there is simply no substitute for person-to-person interaction. Just think about the first time you were able to leave the house and feel comfortable meeting up with friends or going to a family get-together. That sort of interaction is priceless and cannot be replicated even using the best social media platforms.
When it comes to social media, like anything else, there are always downsides. For instance, if you say something less than flattering about another person to their face there are several considerations to make. The first is that it is likely that seeing someone face to face would discourage you from saying something negative about him or her in the first place. There is just something uncouth and undesirable about talking badly to another person’s face to face. This is something that we probably learned from our parents. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.
Social media encourages us to be able to engage with people around us in ways that we probably would not feel comfortable doing if presented in a face-to-face format. Consider what celebrities and momentary celebrities go through online. Log onto your favorite social media website dispense sometime seeing what kind of comments athletes, movie stars, and the like receive from the public. None of us would probably be shocked to see the dreams that we do but it is important to note that simply being a celebrity in public gives many people believe that they have a right to say whatever it is they want to these people simply to let off steam or even to get a reaction. This is one of the major reasons why many celebrities simply do not engage with fans or anyone else for that matter.
Even for us noncelebrities going online can be burdensome and stressful. Right now, I’m sure you have heard about or read about students and young people yeah suffered a great deal of harm due to online bullying. It used to be that if you were struggling with how others were treating you at school that could at least be left behind when you were at home. However, we are now in a situation where students and people, in general, can interact with one another on a 24-hour basis. As a result, the stress associated with bullying has increased a great deal. As a result, there is an even greater emphasis for young people on taking care of themselves mentally.
We tend to think of young people as being more prone to the harms of bullying online. However, there are risks associated with the use of social media for adults just as it is for children. What seems to us at first glance to be a harmless Use of our time that being social media usage can end up being extremely harmful to us and our family. Consider the limitations social media use provides when it comes to our daily life. There is no limit on the type of language, people, or groups that we interact with when on the computer. Again, things we might never say and people that we might never interact with otherwise are made available to us on social media. It probably would not surprise you to learn that many divorces in our day and age begin because of one spouse, or both, getting in contact with an old boyfriend or girlfriend on social media. From there, the rest is history. Let’s start it off as perhaps harmless conversation and reminiscing can quickly turn into infidelity. Being able to simply turn off the computer and ignore these types of conversations can be difficult. This is especially true if you have not been receiving the kind of attention or affection from your spouse that you would like.
The Internet is forever
The other important concept for us to think about in this regard has to do with the fact that the information contained on the Internet pretentiously lasts forever. An offhand remark that you make to your spouse or significant other can either be forgotten or Contextualized in some way. Something that looks bad on paper can be explained away with context. I know if you printed out a transcript of every conversation that my wife and I had together some of it would probably look bad or at least not flattering in retrospect. However, when it comes to taking those conversations in proper context my wife, I know the tone and tinner of those conversations and do not take offense to how they are presented.
The problem with social media usage is that tone, tenor, and other subtleties of human interaction cannot be picked up easily online. Whereas something might have been a completely mundane or lighthearted comment could be interpreted as something completely different in an online environment. You have no way of controlling how your significant other or spouse perceives certain topics that you all were discussing on the Internet. While my wife and I are in our mid to late 30s some of you reading this blog post may be younger than us and they utilize social media for more day-to-day communication than my wife and I do. As a result, you may be accustomed to approaching this subject in terms of daily interactions more than we are.
As a result, if you think critically about the way that you and your spouse interact with one another you may come to find out that many of your interactions are not the most favorable in appearance for either you or your spouse. As a result, this may encourage you to rethink your use of social media at least for the time being. However, what’s done is done and if you have engaged in social media usage that is not the least bit flattering then you may be wondering how that could affect your divorce or child custody case.
In an age where we use social media with a growing frequency, it is not uncommon for the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to receive questions about the impact of social media use in Texas family law. With social media use being something very common in our everyday lives it occurs to many people that their use of social media in their daily lives may amount to something more than just minor importance. As a result, we can see that social media usage is something that can be put under the microscope in terms of your case is concerned. What we need to figure out is just what kind of effect social media can have exactly and how you and your family can protect against the harms of social media.
Background information is collected on social media. It used to be that if you wanted to do any kind of research on an opposing client in a social media case you would need to hire A private investigator or perform some basic background work yourself as an attorney. This was OK if you lived in a relatively small community where everyone knew everyone. As time has gone by this method of due diligence is not as simple as it once was. This is especially true given that we live in a large, metropolitan area. As such, attorneys very rarely performed any boots-on-the-ground type of research on opposing clients.
However, one-bit research that most any attorney can perform is logging onto social media to find out more information on an opposing client. all it takes is Internet access, your name, and a little bit of time. Bear in mind that research of this sort can be interesting to an attorney. Considering how most of an attorney’s time is spent performing Internet research to learn more about case law and statutes, being able to spend some time looking up dirt on you or your opposing spouse can seem like the most interesting thing in the world. It is almost like the lawyer is getting to use social media just like the rest of us do in our personal lives. The only difference is the attorney will be getting paid for doing this type of work.
I mention a lot of that insert if they are halfhearted in a whimsical way. Your attorney will take seriously the totality of their job representing you. however, basic social media research is not difficult and can be performed by your attorney or their staff. Bear in mind that your spouse and their attorney will likely be performing much of the same kind of research. Do not forget that for every message or Facebook post that you have made it is likely that you’re a spouse will have done the same. As such, you need to be prepared to share with your attorney anything online that could be of interest to the case.
It is not at all uncommon 2 begin to work with a new client and to have that client turn into you a folder of printed information from Facebook or other social media sites. In the client’s mind, this information is the key to a victory in their divorce or child custody case. Sometimes this information includes messages or other written material. At other times it can be photographs that are less than flattering. I’ve seen it all just like I’m sure any other family of law attorney has, as well. Pictures of people drinking alcohol to excess, engaging in illegal behavior, and posting photographs with firearms and even narcotics are fairly run-of-the-mill activities for people to post online.
Your job is to turn over any information that can be relevant to your attorney. Your attorney will decide on a couple of factors when it comes to figuring out whether or not this material can be admitted as evidence in your case. Probably the first determination is whether or not it is relevant to your case. Next, your attorney will need to determine how he or she can offer and then have admitted into the record this evidence. It is not as if your attorney can simply lob a bunch of paperwork down on the desk of the judge and call it a day. Rather, that evidence must not be hearsay material. You can leave that aspect of it to your attorney as far as working with him or her to figure that out.
On the other hand, you and your attorney need to have honest conversations about what, if any, material online may be detrimental to your case. This means talking candidly with him or her about any skeletons that may be in your social media closet. Think about the type of material that you are excited to show your attorney as far as the online behavior of your spouse or Co-parent. From there, you can think more about what type of material your spouse may be able to show to their attorney about your online behavior. I can tell you from an attorney’s perspective it is much easier to learn about this information from you than it is to learn about the information from an opposing attorney. Therefore, you need to be sure that you are ready to share information like this with your attorney if it becomes relevant to do so. If something is questionable you should still share it and let the attorney, make it determination about whether it is relevant and should be looked into a further period
Social media during the family law case: to use or not to use
The last thing that I wanted to mention in today’s blog post is an important discussion regarding the use of social media during a family law case. In general, I am of the mindset at social media is not worth your time and even in the best of circumstances. I can make some exceptions for sharing photographs of your family or even chatting with people that you otherwise would not have the opportunity to do so with.
]f you have self-control and king utilize social media sporadically and intentionally then there’s probably little to no harm in using social media for personal reasons. However, the reality is that from my experience most people are not capable of utilizing social media in this way. I don’t want to come off as holier than thou so I’ll say that I probably would fall into this category were I to have social media accounts. For that reason, I have chosen to simply not engage in social media. I know that if left to my own devices I, too, would probably be the person who utilizes social media to my detriment rather than benignly.
what does this mean for you? Well, you need to determine for yourself to what extent you are capable of using social media sporadically and with a certain purpose if you are involved in a family law case or even if you believe that a family law case is on the horizon for you and your family. Many people look at social media as a way to let off steam or to unwind after a long day. If you are capable of doing so responsibly and sporadically then social media may be something that is not altogether negative for you.
On the other hand, if you are like many of us who would use social media in ways that are not entirely appropriate and may even say things about your case on the computer then you need to seriously consider whether or not to get off of social media for the duration of your case will be something in your best interest. That does not mean deleting your account. What it does mean is that for the duration of your family law case you may be in a position where it is better to swear off the computer and go for a walk when you would otherwise use social media.
Speaking of deleting your account, if you are worried about the information contained on your various social media profiles then you should your account even if this case has not already started. The reason for this is that in some situations you may be barred from doing so. Some temporary orders in divorce or child custody cases may bar you from deleting your profile or other material connected to your case. As a result, you should think long and hard about your actions on social media even if your case is not started yet. This is true especially if the case has not even begun yet. In that case, speak with your attorney about how to proceed and what the best course for you is considering your circumstances.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.