Today we are connected as no other time in history….but are we better off in our relationships?
By: Lydia Waruszynski
• a romantic dinner for two becomes dinner for four, with feelings of closeness snuffed out by accompanying smartphone buzzes, chimes and check-ins on social media.
• an overworked professional -and parent- is made to be available at all times, tethered to their digital gadgets, often bringing work home and on vacation, much to their own detriment and family life.
• a teenager breaks up over a text message, avoiding taking proper responsibility for the relationship: removed from coping with heartache- an essential part of being human and healthy communication.
• a mother interrupts her playing children just to take a family selfie in hope of getting several ‘likes” from her Facebook friends.
• a husband habitually turns himself “off” from his wife in bed by turning “on” his tablet instead.
There’s a term for these type of encounters and it’s called: technoference. Moreover, these concerns add to the growing body of psychological research exploring the overuse and reliance on technology, especially how it is interfering with our daily lives and relationships. In my line of work, it’s one of the hot-button issues facing couples today. In fact, phubbing -or the repeated act of ignoring or snubbing someone by looking at your phone instead of paying attention to the person you’re with- has become the latest phenomenon in couple conflict and communication.
Message Communicated- Message Received
It seems everyone is staring at some kind of screen these days…and believe me the irony isn’t lost on me as I write this article. However, happy relationships- whether romantic or platonic- are all about authentic face-to-face connection. Fundamentally, we are social creatures whose lives depend on our connections to one another. Most of us are not aware that it’s the history of our meaningful interactions with one another which takes a hit each time we ask more from technology and less from each other. Nor do we realize that we starve our capacity for empathy…quite literally, as our brain becomes neurologically famished, no longer receiving signals required for relational responses and bonding. Human connection brings meaning and purpose into our lives. Significant relationships are not self-sustaining. They require uninterrupted time, shared experiences, affectionate touch, attention -as in the human “look them in the eyes” kind. Consistently choosing your phone over your partner sends the implicit message about what you value most. Do the math: the more time we spend with our gadgets, the less time we make for each other. Digital communications do not build deeper connections…people do.
So, it is in our best interest to set aside time where we unplug and connect with what really matters. It’s not about being anti-technology, it’s about being pro-conversation. Today, world-wide, we are webbed in technology, let’s just make sure we don’t feel like we’re worlds apart when it comes to our loving relationships.