Harvard Prof: Facebook Doesn't Have To Ruin A Marriage

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Harvard economist Edward Gleaser believes Facebook and e-mail improve our relationships.

The manifest idea attached to e-mail and social networks like Facebook is that they impair relationships rather than improve them. Lawyers claiming Facebook is responsible for 50 percent of divorces aside, we've had the "But why would you friend request your ex?!" argument way too many times to know technology is often a relationship hurdle, not helper. Not only that, but when we rely on these mediums to communicate with loved ones, we deprive ourselves of face-to-face contact. Or so we thought. Your Facebook Friends Are Ruining Your Relationship

Harvard professor and author Edward L. Gleaser believes otherwise, that e-mail and Facebook can actually improve our relationships, and connecting via cyberspace actually increases the value of face-to-face interactions.

This "cyberspace connectivity" can either substitute or complement face-to-face interactions. The latter is what Gleaser believes strengthens interpersonal contact, because new media not only increases our number of relationships but is a major proponent of creative innovations.

However, in order for new media to continue having a positive rather than negative effect, interpersonal contact—sharing of knowledge in close proximity—must remain an "important ingredient to innovation." This element of sharing is what compliments our relationships and keeps face-to-face contact from becoming obsolete.

Even so, in his latest book Triumph of the City, Gleaser admits that connecting in cyberspace will never be the same as sharing a meal or a smile or a kiss, but the evidence doesn't necessarily suggest that long-distance communication is a substitute for face-to-face interaction.

So, how can you use Facebook or e-mail to improve your relationship today? Facebook Unfriending Lands Couple In Jail

When skimming your news feed or inbox, look for date night ideas like any new movies or music that's been released or that your friends have given great reviews. Send your partner a loving message while he's away at work, saying you can't wait to see him/her later.

Admittedly, Facebook is flawed and relying on email or other electronic messages to faciliate conversation with your partner isn't good either. But instead of focusing on what's bad, perhaps we can focus on what's good and take notice of how this advanced technology can be used to our advantage.

Tell us: how does new media help your relationship?