TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Internet allows people to quickly connect and share information, but in some cases it can be disastrous. One East Texan who fell victim to an online romance.
"It was an AOL chat room, a chat room for people who had panic attacks," said Bill Atkins, an East Texan who claims his wife left him after meeting someone online. He added, "I didn't now what was going on until I turned on the computer one day, and there was his big picture."
Atkins says his wife's Internet relationship spun out of control. Divorce attorneys say it's a growing problem as the use of chat rooms, e-mail, and social networks continues to rise. "It's like a buffet of adultery. Facebook and myspace make practicing divorce law extremely profitable," said Kelly Heitkamp, a family law attorney.
Atkins said, "I knew that she was on chat rooms but didn't know it was going this seriously." He said he began to see the warning signs. "I'm not stupid, she went out to Arizona."
"Most people who I know that got in trouble didn't go out seeking it. It just happened. They are online with people, and they start connecting with people. They start to share their story. They start to feel like somebody cares about them," said Doug Clark, the Senior Pastor at Grace Community Church in Tyler.
It's not just married couples suffering from online drama. "I broke up with one of my girlfriends because of Facebook. It's a thing called a 'wall'. Other people can write on it, and everybody can see. This other dude was talking to her," said Wayne Harmon, a Facebook user.
Atkins said it was a painful lesson that cost him almost his whole world. When asked if he has been remarried, Atkins responded, "No, no, no. I have no desire to...I'm set in my ways. I don't want anyone trying to change me," said Atkins.
However, many couples would never have met if it weren't for the Internet, and connecting online has brought some closer together. "If a dude expresses how he feels about you on his 'wall', that shows a lot," said Tola Martins, a Facebook user.
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