Balance, Wellness

Is Technology Getting in the Way of Genuine Relationships?

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There was once a time when a person’s life truly had separate parts. The work life was kept apart from the home life, which were both kept away from the recreational life. And in some cases, the religious life was kept completely separate from other areas of life, as well.

Then along came technology, which has swept that reality away from mankind in the past 20 years.

Human beings are more connected now than ever before. Correspondence with others is instant–what once took a week-long trip on horseback can now be done in three seconds.

The rise of social media and smartphones has allowed people to take their work, entertainment, photos, and all aspects of their lives everywhere–essentially blending all the individual segments of one’s life.

This constant connection is both a blessing and a curse.

How Technology Helps and Hurts Our Relationships

Larger Networks and More Efficient Communication

Thanks to technology, it’s possible to grow your network in exponential amounts, both socially and professionally. Facebook and LinkedIn are particularly useful for social and professional connection, respectively.

There are many advantages to online networking, such as worldwide connectivity and finding common interests with others. Technology allows you to stay connected with other individuals who live right down the street from you or across continents and time zones. Through video chats, social media, and even gaming, no one is out of reach.

Once you connect with an old college friend or a long lost family member, don’t expect to have to wait long to strike up a conversation. Waiting for an answer about anything is a thing of the past. Contact someone via email, text or social media message, and you normally have a response waiting on your phone less than a minute later.

Technology has made communication very efficient. People are impatient if they have to wait even 15 minutes for a response. Every form of communication seems to happen in a snap nowadays–there’s no use for the term “instant messaging” anymore.

Not only is it easy to communicate with people you already know, it’s even easy to build new relationships through various social media platforms, applications, and devices.

Physical Isolation

Every problem created by technology can be summed up in two words: physical isolation. Technology has afforded humans the ability to conduct simple interactions. Send a few work emails? No problem. Play Minecraft for a little while? Easy. Make plans with friends? Done. And it’s all accomplished without having to leave the house–or even get out of bed.

It’s possible for you to live your whole life from the comfort of your room–your work, social interactions, keeping up with the news, everything. Or at least, it seems that way. Overuse of technology can have adverse effects on your physical and mental health, and these effects are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in children.

Spending too much time on your smartphone, laptop, or in front of the TV can begin to change the way you solve problems and process emotions, and it can even lead to obesity. When you spend all of your time inside with your devices, you’re depriving your mind and body of two of the most important things you can give it: social interaction and physical exercise. The isolation that seems to go hand-in-hand with the use of technology is slowly eating away at your ability to truly enjoy life.

Steps you can take:

Generally speaking, interacting with others reverses the negative effects of being alone for too long with the pseudo-relationships you have online. Being around other people helps you solve problems and think through what you’re feeling more efficiently. Overall, it improves your quality of life.

With this in mind, make an effort to consciously unplug at various points of the day.

At work. Instead of emailing a colleague, maybe drop by her office to deliver your message. Also, remember to take breaks from your desk (and all of the electronics on it!). Grab a bite or a cup of coffee in the break room while others are there. Having a little bit of small talk may actually improve your mood one study found. (Updating your facebook status probably won’t have the same effect. Just a hunch!)

At home. Establish a designated time to leave your devices in another room and enjoy the company of your housemates–or just a good book. Alternatively, use your phone to actually call a loved one (yes, your iPhone can make old-fashioned calls, too!). Hearing someone’s voice can instantly deliver comfort. Although texting has many mertis, it’s hard to say that it delivers the same level of immediate feel-goods.

With friends. Try this experiment: next time you’re out with your friends, resist the urge to pull out your phone during lulls–even if the others around you are on their devices. You may find that your attentiveness is catching!

 

How do you balance your use of technology? 

Also by Cori: 5 Easy Ways to Actually Break Bad Habits

How to Sign Off and Enjoy Your Weekend

Related: How Your Social Media Identity Hurts Your Real Self

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Photo: Kaboompics

Cori Keating

Cori Keating

Founder at Why So Well
Cori Keating is a health and wellness writer and blogger. When she isn’t writing for her blog, Why So Well, she enjoys hiking, biking, and running.
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