Technology and Relationships (Pt 2)

As you may remember in part one of the technology series - Technology in Life, we discussed the way in which technology has changed the way in which we live over the last decade. As such, we are able to do things so much quicker, or even faster than we initially anticipated, from starting up our cars to taking pictures through our watches, either way what we have accomplished technologically has been incredible. Amongst all our achievements, we have also as humans adapted to our environments and the new technological ways of our marvellous world; so much so that research has aptly named this the ‘technological revolution’. The ways in which we have adapted or ‘revolutionised’ throughout the technological era has resulted in our changes in behaviour from the way we spend our down-time, to the ways we communicate with one another. Throughout this blog, we will explore the ways in which we have adapted and why this has changed the way we are, and who we are in relationships.

During our spare time we’ve been found to have become more solemn and introverted, and whilst technology may have made our lives easier each and every day, it is also retrospectively true, we have become more lazier and unhappier due to the lack of normal human ‘social capital’ required to sustain healthy and reciprocal relationships. As Allison Abrams, LCSW-R, for Psychology Today mentions, through the “’privatization of leisure time’, technology and mass media have become the medium of choice through which many of us spend our free time—usually alone” and as such we are looking into our devices to seek three necessities especially in times of despair, as such; restoration, consolation and socialisation. As it turns out, these three things are also factors that connect us on a human-level. When we are socialising in person, we are most likely to mention what is going on in our lives and share what we do in our spare time like restore and relax, as well as give and seek the consolation and comfort from our friends and loved ones. We are found to talk more into devices than to people, and consequently there is a lack of face-to-face conversation  As Abrams mentions “sadly, as our communities are unraveling, we are becoming more isolated and disengaged than ever before.”

Joanne Carney quoted musician Laurie Anderson when discussing the problematic issues with new technology who said "technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories,”. In essence, this is a true statement; the internet has become the place to which we share most of our lives with others, where we communicate, exchange photos and meticulously make sure we showcase ourselves, so others can perceive us in the best light. As previously mentioned in Technology in Life, we aren’t always able to separate the lines between real life from our social media and internet presence, and as such there are ever growing documentaries and studies highlighting the adverse effects of the internet on our everyday lives.

Becoming unhappier, lazier and disillusioned in our lives has stemmed from technology making our lives easier each and every day.  Take for example the fact that we used to make expensive phone calls on our landlines to communicate with those of whom we haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, or to confirm our face-to-face plans or to catch up in person. Now, we can use free apps to communicate with those across the globe in a matter of seconds and can even see if they have read our communications, so rather than sustaining a real connection through our devices, we are using it to focus on our priority to others to see how much they value replying to us. We are also not focusing our conversations on the real areas that need to be spoken about, such as if someone is truly okay, and what is truly going on in someone’s life. So, this begs the question are we communicating effectively or communicating efficiently? – The answer is both.

We have developed a new communication style and a new way to socialize – we share our stories, successes and adventures. We use text talk, we shorten words into abbreviations, along with a whole host of categorised emojis to describe our feelings and thoughts. Despite the shortening, all the above can make it easier for us to communicate, especially when it comes to difficult topics.  Therefore, our devices act as a barrier, but hold both good and bad characteristics. On the negative side, it can create a space where one can hide and deflect all responsibility for their words as they are behind a screen, but by the same token it also allows one to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions freely as you are hidden behind a barrier and doesn’t come with the same level of vulnerability as a face-to-face meeting with someone would, as suggested by Alex Lickerman M.D. in his blog ‘The Effect Of Technology On Relationships’. Also, with the rise of Emojis, words can be put into simple pictures that can sum up a situation or feeling, and also adds another level of humanisation to one’s thoughts which can promote empathy for someone. 

It has been suggested that using multiple methods of contact, from face-to-face, texts and the exchanging of social media posts and phone calls, and switching between them is said to build and unite individuals, particularly if you are in a couple and you do as such, your relationship is likely to be closer and more satisfying according to Elizabeth Dorrance Hall Ph.D in her blog ‘Using Communication Technology to Improve Relationships’. As a traditional agency, we advocate the gentleman making the first contact, thus we can say that chivalry isn’t dead yet, and we can incorporate old fashioned ways into a new system and new style of communication showing modernisation and integrity in these times. Sexologistand relationship expert Dr. Nikki Goldstein told HuffPost Australia "We are actually communicating more, but we're not putting our old fashioned communication skills into practice. I think it always has been a struggle to ask people out, but now I think it's even worse"

Communication has always been key to any successful relationship, whether it be friends, family member or romantic partner. As a strong advocate for openness and honesty, it is valued in whichever way you feel comfortable to communicate and feel free to talk, rather than keeping negative and hurtful feelings inside, as this is detrimental to one’s mental health.  But of course by the same token, if it will be hurtful or not arise in a solution then take yourself away from technology. After all it was Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, who said in Rolling Stone Magazine, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” So in essence, our technological devices are items which aid us to get by, whether it be our shopping, communicating or dating, we must use it in the right way to let people know how we feel - a way that we would feel comfortable receiving or hearing the same news.  If not, we will lose sight of what is true to us, and true to what makes us human.