This is part two of this series on Relationship Review. Click here for part one!
The abundance of smart phones, and other media devices, has redefined our human interactions. Sadly, many users have become more comfortable with on-screen communication than a personal phone call or a face-to-face conversation. Technology has grown into a form of pseudo-relationship that can rob us from our deepest desires to belong and to be significant.
“I’d rather text than talk” has become a common mantra. Even the word “talking” is frequently used when describing a text message exchange. “Texting may inform but it doesn’t offer authentic, real-time emotional connection,” states Dr. Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT, and author of Reclaiming Conversation. “Our relationship with technology affects how we communicate. But it also affects the deeper ways we interact and connect with people.”
Ironically, the standard of communication seems to have dropped, while the desire to be authentically known has increased. This is where therapy can be helpful in navigating the minefield of pseudo-relationships.
Here are two tips:
- The first healthy relationship begins with one’s self. Solitude is a commonly overlooked relationship tool. Dr. Turkle believes that true empathy requires the capacity for solitude, and empathy is the essence to successful relationships. Mindfulness exercises are one way in which to experience healthy solitude.
- Boundaries around the use of devices are key to the balanced use of technology. New studies show that 74% of married couples report a notable increase in conflict over technological use. Studies also reveal that a simple awareness of an unused cell phone setting on the kitchen table can cause distraction and rob a family of rich times of belonging. A thoughtful technology plan can help a family flourish relationally.
Technology will only grow. The strategy is to find the best way to connect with others while benefiting from technology. Working with your therapist on relationship disciplines can help boost quality relationships, while engaging with technology.
Written by: Sheri Schulze