It was a Twitter mystery.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was being lambasted on almost every front during the recent “take a knee” controversy, he had one consistent mystery defender on Twitter: @forargument. In fact, @forargument had been defending Goodell for years whenever he came under fire in the press.
That was, until, The Wall Street Journal “unmasked” the mystery tweeter and exposed her real identity: She was Mrs. Roger Goodell. Jane Goodell, herself a former member of the media, fessed up to the Journal when they called, saying:
It was a REALLY silly thing to do and done out of frustration—and love. As a former media member, I’m always bothered when the coverage doesn’t provide a complete and accurate picture of a story. I’m also a wife and a mom. I have always passionately defended the hard-working guy I love—and I always will. I just may not use Twitter to do so in the future!
While it was dishonest, one can’t help but admire Mrs. Goodell’s tenacity in defense of her husband. In one of her better tweets, replying to a historian’s post about Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew’s attacks on Goodell’s father, a former senator, she took the chance to promote her husband, tweeting: “Goodell courageous & was right in the end. Leadership is hard. Commish is doing the same. Give him credit.”
There’s something about the thought of a mom shuttling kids around to sports games and school functions while intermittently firing shots on Twitter at anyone who attacks her husband that makes me smile. Perhaps it’s because it’s something I can see myself doing. It was also an example of how social media can actually be used in such a way that marriage is promoted instead of denigrated.
To be sure, social media gets a bad reputation for its effect on marriages. Facebook is now linked with divorce and cited in approximately one-third of all divorce cases, according to The Washington Post. One large study in the U.K. found that one-in-seven people mulled divorce due to their spouse’s activity on social media platforms like Skype, Snapchat, or Twitter. Another found that nearly one-fifth of couples fought daily about social media use.
But is social media always a negative force in marriage?
The Goodell expose suggests otherwise; she was using Twitter to defend and promote her man. One can criticize her deceptive method, but no doubt most men would love to know their wife secretly has their back. And while Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram certainly lend themselves to misleading portrayals of personal lives, social media can also be a wonderful tool to evangelize the case for marriage and family.
In a culture that devalues marriage and frames it as constraining to women, social media can be a good way for happy wives to set the record straight. It’s a great way to be reminded of others’ anniversaries and wish them well. And when couples are struggling, it can provide a good portal for supportive friends to follow up and offer support.
The reality is that social media is here to stay. It’s up to us to decide how we use it. Harnessed properly, it can be a powerful tool for positive personal narratives about love and commitment. The website “I Believe in Love,” for example, does this through simple storytelling tailored for social media platforms targeted to audiences that don’t get much positive reinforcement when it comes to marriage as a social good.
All of us who are active on social media can use our own personal platforms as a force for good to evangelize the culture in favor of marriage and, as Mrs. Goodell has shown us, by being the first line of defense when our spouse is under attack.
Ashley E. McGuire is a Contributing Editor at the Institute for Family Studies. Her new book is Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female (Regnery, 2017).
Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.