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Good news, people! You’re all big, fat cheaters.
Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll, a study of 1,000 18- to 34-year-olds, found that a majority of millennials consider online flirting to be cheating. In the Fusion survey, 77 percent of men and 88 percent of women said “online flirtations or relationships” equated to forsaking one’s entire relationship.
These risky—or perhaps risqué—behaviors are as universal as Facebook to members of the millennial generation. We’re all guilty of leaving an errant comment on someone’s Instagram when we’re three drinks deep in the early morning hours or tweeting back at someone with a reply that could be interpreted as borderline flirtation. And we’ve all heard some form of the argument that “emotional cheating is far worse than physical cheating,” an assertion that’s up for debate.
Yet Fusion’s survey question lacks nuance. What constitutes “flirting?” Is liking someone’s Facebook photo a form of flirtation? And does the attractiveness of the recipient have anything to do with the appropriate level of jealousy (which would affect whether to classify the act as flirting)?
It seems flirting is in the eye of the accuser, and based on conversations I’ve had with just my friends alone, our definitions of online flirting exist on a spectrum.
Almost as many people as said flirting was cheating admitted to having sent a nude photo before, which means that social media flirting is probably the least of our troubles—there’s likely quite a bit of private cheating going on too.
The lesson here is this: We’re all suspicious cheaters who interpret every public action on social media as an act of betrayal, so do as the teens do and limit yourself to Snapchat.
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.