First Things First

Technology and Relationships

Have you ever thought about how today’s amazing technological advances affect relationships?

There are very few places where you can’t be technologically connected in some way, shape or form. Calls can be taken whenever and wherever. It’s fairly inexpensive and there are no long distance fees. In real time, you can be in touch with whomever to show them what you are eating, post your latest fashion escapade or tell them about something that just happened. Who would have guessed a day would come when you can actually conduct business with people halfway across the planet whom you may never meet in person?

Why would anybody need to read books anymore or memorize anything when with a few keystrokes the information can be on a screen in front of you? The world has never been so flat when it comes to communicating.

How does all of this impact relationships?

What if you get an email from a friend who lives out of town who is really struggling? Inventions like Skype or FaceTime make it feel like you are practically there live and in person, which is good, but does it replace being able to hug someone when things are tough?

Do you remember calling home from college once a week to talk to your parents? It required remembering all that happened during the week before and that also meant there were many things you had to figure out on your own because mom and dad weren’t available at the drop of a hat to give you their best problem solving maneuver. This begs the question, how are young people impacted by constantly being able to be in touch with their parents when life gets challenging versus taking a stab at trying to figure it out for themselves?

Have you ever experienced miscommunication in a text message? For example, take the word “fine.” You text your spouse saying you want to go out to eat tonight. Your spouse replies, “Fine.” Is that, “Fine, I’m good with it. Let’s roll,” or “Fine, like not really fine because we’ve already eaten out three times this week.” Or is it, “Fine,” with a big exasperated sigh followed by, “Whatever!?” Who knows, because all you have to work with is the word “fine.”

How about boundaries? At first everybody seemed super excited about being connected all the time. Now people realize, “Wow, I can be reached anywhere, anytime, and maybe that’s not so great.” Constant pings at the dinner table can make it challenging to have meaningful conversation with family and friends.

There is a fair amount of chatter these days about how thinking and behavior have changed as a result of digital devices and other technology. Is there such a thing as technology overload? Are attention spans affected by constantly switching back and forth between incoming text messages, email and the task at hand? Has creativity diminished?

And, has meaningful conversation with friends and family been replaced by photos and snippets of life posted on Facebook?

Ask yourself. How would your most meaningful relationships be enhanced if you changed or limited the way you currently use technology?

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