By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
Technology seems to be dominating our lives today. Whether it is your cell phone, computer, PlayStation, TV, or anything else, we are always surrounded by it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Netflix and checking Facebook; I’m not a technology hater. However, I have noticed that a common theme among people today, myself included, is that technology is beginning to interfere with our relationships.
If you were to add up the time you spend using technology throughout the day, you would probably be surprised by just how often you’re on it. Many people can’t even make it through a meal without checking their phone. When we see everyone else checking their phone, we then feel compelled to check ours. Instead of talking with each other face-to-face, we bury ourselves in our technology.
When we are continually using technology in the presence of others, we are ignoring them. While you may be listening, to them it looks like you are more interested in what is on your phone than what they have to say. Remember how you have felt when you’ve been ignored. Were you hurt, angry, sad, frustrated? All of those are valid responses. While this may be annoying when you’re trying to have a normal conversation with someone, imagine if they are trying to talk to you about something important. Then it may feel like you are ignoring their feelings, or worse, that Facebook is more important than them. When this happens frequently, the person may just stop trying to engage with you.
This ultimately causes a rift in relationships - when we feel like we can’t express our thoughts and feelings because the other person is too busy being lost in technology. We end up burying these feelings which eventually can turn into resentment and anger. If these feelings are not dealt with, it can ruin a relationship.
How can we fix this?
While technology has helped make our lives a lot easier, and possibly more interesting, it can still contribute to people drifting further apart from one another. Instead of spending time connecting with the people around us, we are fixated on what is happening in the digital world. While we may think we are connected to more people with technology (I mean, just look at how many Facebook friends you have), these connections may be more on the surface level, and are less likely to provide us with the love and support we need in our lives. We need to value those around us and show them that we care, and we can do that by taking much-needed breaks from our devices!
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