People actually admit that they Facebook fight so friends can weigh in. It's like The Marriage Ref but, impossibly, worse. “A lot of people aren’t with us if we have a fight at home," Ashley Andrews says of her fiancé. This way, “All our friends can kind of comment on it.”
People aren't just doing it for input, though; they're doing it to protect reputations. Their own reputations. Ryan Stofer, an avowed Facebook fighter, admits public arguments with his ex-girlfriend were mere attempts to save face. "She’d be talking to her friends on Facebook about how bad a boyfriend I was," he said, "And I would be like, ‘No, I was decent.’ "
Psychologists say arguing on Facebook won't protect either person's image, much less the image of their relationship. Public arguments convey instability, volatility, and unhappiness. What is a joke to the couple may be a relationship falling apart to their friends. And because the support of friends and family has proven to sustain relationships over time, chipping away at its image one status update at a time erodes its private stability in the long run.
But does any couple who uses Facebook to send passive-aggressive messages stand a chance?