Recently, we saw a post on Facebook that said social media is destroying relationships. In response, someone disagreed and said that social media is bringing us closer to everyone in the world.
It may be true that the internet has allowed us to create a smaller world and to come together and communicate on a global scale with ease. At what price though?
The other day we passed by a local eatery that we frequent on occasion. There was a line of traffic on the road in front of us so we were stopped directly across from the restaurant’s entrance.
It was a Saturday and very busy. People were waiting outside to have their names called when a table was available. To our astonishment, each one of the dozen or so people who was standing there had a hand-held device and was totally engrossed in whatever they were reading or searching for. They were all standing together and yet no one was talking to each other! Everyone was looking down at their devices. These very same people who send emails, texts and Facebook posts communicate freely on their devices, however, when they are standing right next to one another, they don’t know what to say!
This is just one of countless incidents that we have witnessed where people in public, who are undoubtedly with family or friends in supposed social situations, have literally ‘checked-out’ from where they are physically.
A while back we wrote about this same subject and how technology is adversely affecting parent/child relationships. The effect is the same no matter who is involved and the questions we must ask are ‘Is technology a substitute for love?’ and ‘Is technology destroying our capacity to genuinely connect with each other?’
Social media and gadgets have their place and do serve a positive purpose. However, they also appeal to and enhance dysfunctional behavior by a world population that is increasingly voyeuristic and at the same time increasingly isolated from real physical, personal relationships and social interaction.
Yes, the world is smaller because of technology. It is also becoming a haven for people, who in their lifetime, will experience little, if any, healthy relationships, real communication and genuine intimacy.
If you’re a baby-boomer like we are, then you may recall a movie in the 1970s called ‘Sleeper.’ It was written, directed and starred Woody Allen. In it, Allen is transported to a futuristic society where he discovers many oddities. Among them is a machine called an Orgasmitron. This machine allows you to have a sexual encounter without even having a physical partner.
We know what you’re thinking, so let’s keep it ‘clean!’ The point is, how far-fetched is the idea of having technology replacing love? Will the genuine human need, desire and drive for interpersonal interaction become obsolete?
As Relationship Coaches, we have heard stories from clients about marriages ending and breakups occurring through text-messaging. We’ve been told by clients about being terminated from their job via email by a boss who was in the same room at the time.
To us, this is indicative of a society that is particularly out-of-touch with its’ emotions and its’ ability to have truly mature relationships.
Now, more than ever, it is so important to be willing to participate in the world of face-to-face interaction. If you believe that technology is going to fulfill your every want, need and desire then you are deluding yourself and will end up very disappointed.
Perhaps in this moment you are struggling with a particular relationship. Or maybe, you feel like you lack the communication skills to express your true feelings. It may also be possible that you are using technology as an escape from a not so pleasant life situation.
You may also be using social media as a way to get attention; which is another way of saying ‘to feel love and approval.’
No matter what roles technology, the internet and social media play in your life, there is a very strong probability that you are over-indulging for a variety of emotionally unhealthy reasons.
Here are some tips that may assist you to use technology less and in healthier ways:
1. If technology usage is work or career-related then keep it focused on the task or project at hand.
Set parameters for yourself when you will and will not use technology. For example, we consciously keep all technology off for 24 hours on Sundays and we don’t miss it!
2. Turn technology off when you are in the company of others, especially loved ones. Learn how to give more attention to the people you love than some inanimate hand-held device.
3.Power down technology at least one hour before bedtime. Instead, read a book, listen to music, have a conversation with your spouse or better yet, just have sex!
From our perspective there is good news. Technology cannot and will not replace our desires to experience authentic human contact and love.
Yes, technology has brought us closer globally and that’s great! It has also given us a real sense of who and where we are as a society and has shed the spotlight on a real social problem: that most people live in avoidance of and isolation from emotional interaction.
Technology is hitting us all in the face by demonstrating that what we want most of all (to love and be loved) is what we fear the most.
No machine can ever give you what you or another person can give you. Take the time to honestly look at your relationship with technology. Is technology a substitute for love in your life?
To learn more about us and to receive guidance about love, marriage, divorce and how to create healthier, happier relationships in your life, connect with us here.