BLAISE TAPP: Is micro-cheating the first dumb trend of 2018?

There must a point in everybody’s life when they say ‘I am not sure if I belong here anymore’, as if the world has moved into a different gear and left them behind.

I used to think it wouldn’t ever happen to me, that, as somebody who works in the media, I would always be alive to the shifts in trends around me before they actually happened.

Sure, there are things I can’t fathom – nipple-piercing, alcohol-free lager, Love Island – but that doesn’t make me out of touch. I think.

But my descent into a semi-permanent state of middle aged bemusement began this weekend when I became briefly seduced by the facile national debate around micro-cheating. Yes, you heard it right, micro-cheating.

Apparently micro-cheating is a thing, a thing that was brought to the wider public’s attention following an interview with psychologist Melanie Schilling, who warned people about this trend, which involves people getting in touch with old flames without telling their current partners.

Melanie, a relationship specialist well known to TV audiences Down Under, warned that you could be engaging in micro-cheating if “you secretly connect with another person on social media, if you share private jokes”. According to her, you are also a micro-rotter (not a real term, but give it time) if you “downplay the seriousness of your relationship to your partner or if you enter their name under a code in your phone”.

Judging by the thousands of words which have been written about it already, I have a hunch that this could be one of those irritating terms which could find its way into the modern lexicon.

Of course, it shouldn’t trouble the vast majority of us and I am with the internet sage who wrote that it was “the first dumbest thing of 2018”. After anything tweeted by President Trump, of course.

It remains to be seen whether the spectre of being labelled a micro-cheat will harm the user numbers of social media platforms such as Facebook, which last week boldly announced it would be taking steps to prioritise posts from family and friends over those from businesses.

I would suggest that one of the major appeals of Facebook is that it allows us the user a window into the world of our ‘friends’, whether we like them or not. This makes identifying micro-cheating even more difficult because in effect, we share parts or, in some cases, all of our lives with relative strangers, never mind people we once shared a toothbrush with.

Micro-cheating is most certainly a 21st century stigma we can do without.

I am glad I am out of it.

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