My parents had 2 main ways to communicate with the outside world: a landline phone and a television. When they wanted to communicate with someone, they either called them, stepped outside and talked to them in the front yard, or got in the car and drove to see them. They’d talk for hours about everything and nothing.
Fast forward to my time of adulthood, and I’ve got a cell phone, tablet, laptop and a television all synced together to make my life “easier.” If I want to communicate with someone, I never actually call them: I text, email, Instagram, use Facebook Messenger, FaceTime or Google Hangouts, all created in part so that I could have more “meaningful” and better-connected relationships. But, I could talk with people all day through these platforms and never know them as well as my parents knew the neighbor they’d talk to once a month for a couple of hours.
I’ve noticed a trend in romantic relationships, too. Everywhere I go I run into an old married couple who started dating when they were in high school or who met in their first year of college. The majority of my friends and colleagues had 6 or 7 girlfriends by the time they finished college, married someone they met near the end of college or at their first real job, and are now divorced. I can’t help but wonder if the ability to constantly communicate with anyone we choose is such a distraction to us, we’ve forgotten how to truly know someone and work through a relationship with them.
Mom and dad made adulthood look easy. With all the technology and access we have today, why does it feel so much harder?
Should we go back to the “good ol’ days?” I’m not saying we should give up our cell phones, shut down our tablets and trade Netflix for NBC or CBS. I mean, there are good things about technology. It has the ability to help us out when we’re in danger, and remind us of important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, plus we can connect with people around the world that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to talk to.
I wonder what would happen if we slowed down and developed relational depth with those we care about. Doing this requires a few things like:
- Prioritizing meaningful conversations and interactions with one person instead of constantly engaging in a group text message with 10 people. In other words, instead of trying to keep up with what EVERYONE is doing, we can have conversations and find out what’s really important to the people we care about most.
- Support people in real life, not just through a like or follow on social media. For example, offer to take a friend dinner when they buy a new house instead of just liking their “We bought a new house!” picture on social media.
- Re-evaluate and trim the list of who is most important to you. Make some difficult adult decisions to simplify your life when it comes to relationships. Just because you’re friends on social media, or text occasionally, doesn’t mean you’re truly friends. Find those folks you want to go deeper with and be intentional about taking time to make it happen.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about relationships, it’s this: It’s not about how often you talk to someone you care about, it’s about really being present with them in the moments you’re with them.