Social media affairs: harmless fun or betrayal?
“I seen your girl post her BM, So I hit her in the DM, all Eyes, yeah I see ‘em, Yeah, that’s your man, I’d hate to be him. It goes down in the DM…”
American Hip-Hop star, Yo Gotti’s 2015 hit single, Down in the DM can be seen as an ode to social media affairs.
The music video relays the story of man who is at the altar about to be married, but cannot seem to get off his social media as he is exchanging sexual texts with another woman on Instagram’s direct messages (DM).
The song illustrates the new age mode of cheating which places high value on sexual gratification. The speed of social media makes it easy to get instant sexual gratification which can be seen as harmless by the participants.
Social Media specialist, Michael Smit, says that social media has made it easier than ever before to have an online affair. With various platforms, such as Instagram or Twitter where people can ‘slide into your DMs’, more and more people have access to anything they could possibly want at their fingertips such as sexts and nudes.
Whilst online dating has become a phenomenon, it has also opened channels to increased infidelity. Social media offers various platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter amongs others where people can participate in infidelity.
According to News24 about 64% people cheat online.
“Online affairs can involve numerous activities, such as viewing explicitly sexual materials, participating in an exchange of ideas about sex, swapping sexual messages, and online exchanges with at least one other person with the intention of becoming sexually aroused”, Smit maintains.
Sakheni Mvela told W24 how he got caught online. He met Liezel* on Facebook three months after getting into a relationship. “I did not think it was a big deal, the entire thing was just an escape when things went sour in my relationship, after all, we never met.”
Clinical Psychologist Narusha Naidoo believes that online cheating is some sort of a fantasy. “Many people cheat online to escape into a fantasy world where their usual relationship problems do not exist, hence in their minds, it is not considered cheating.”
“People often deem their online affairs as not being real, to them it doesn’t have much consequence as one can walk away from it or turn it off, unlike a traditional affair where there’s usually physical contact”, Naidoo said.
Naidoo maintains that if you’re hiding social media accounts and closing websites when your partner enters the room, then you’re likely engaging in some unfaithful action.
Mvela recalls how he abruptly had to close his laptop upon hearing the footsteps of his fiancée coming towards their bedroom door. Mvela was having one of his regular chats with Liezel:
Mvela has since deactivated his social media accounts due to the lack of trust in his relationship.
Whilst online cheating is generally alleged to involve a lesser degree of betrayal as they involve more imaginary elements, the repercussions can damage a healthy relationship. So before you are quick to respond to a sultry DM from an attractive stranger, think about how this will affect your relationship.
*Liezel not her real name.