Social Media Prenups Blur Lines Between Real World and Online Personas

If you ever needed a sign that 2014 is the year that officially heralded in the age of social media, look no further than the prenuptial agreements couples have started signing that clearly outline what content they’re allowed to post about each other and what the repercussions would be should the agreement be broken.

These prenups can be specific, requiring a person to get the permission of their significant other before posting any photo of them. Typically, the prenups provide more of a blanket provision across the spectrum of social media, barring spouses from posting nude photos, embarrassing pictures, or anything that might harm his or her career. Some social media prenups have monetary penalties, costing the offender as much as $50,000 for posting something as simple as an unflattering picture on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

It might seem silly or even immature, but experts agree that it’s no laughing matter. Los Angeles-based marriage therapist Dr. Sheri Meyers explained that social media is here to stay, and that couples need to set boundaries without hard feelings.

“It’s a huge issue because we all know this stuff, once it’s out there, you can’t shake it,” said attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza. “It can be humiliating. It can be painful. … It’s really no joke, and I expect this clause to become much more important with any of the other contracts.”

What’s most interesting about these social media prenups is that they clearly indicate the lines between our online personas and our real-world selves are being blurred. In the past, we may have shown our co-workers one side of ourselves, and a completely other side to our friends the same way we would have one completely different side online than we might have in the real world.

Dr. Myers and her husband, relationship coach Jonathan Aslay, got a social media prenup last year, because, as Myers says, “The line began to blur between what is us and what’s being put out there for the world.”

Back in 2010, science writer Mark Changizi noted that “In the age of Social Web 2.0 people can split themselves into multiple selves inhabiting multiple communities.” However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that these selves/identities/personas are interconnected.

In the past, our online selves and our real life identities might have been completely separate entities, but these prenups indicate that that’s come to an end. Now, our separate social spheres have become interconnected. Each face we have–online or in person–is like one facet of a jewel, as looking through a new facet will illuminate new parts of the same jewel.

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