Picture this: A beautiful Sunday morning at a beachfront café. After a stressful work week, you and your man are sitting down for a relaxed brunch and some quality couple time. You're discussing the idea of summer vacation, dreaming up ideas of where you might enjoy more quality time together. Before you can say, "French West Indies," his cell phone starts buzzing, a call is coming in. Without meeting your eyes, he reaches for the phone. Excitedly, he says "Hey Man, whaz up?" He and his buddy grunt out a quick conversation about a pickup ball game later that day, which, of course, seems completely meaningless to you. He disconnects, and you are now disconnected from him. Your "Boy-are-you-in-trouble" expression solidifies as your honey looks up and says, "What?"
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What ensues is not pretty. What's the real issue here? It is not the cell phone or its use in our society. As a therapist, the beef I have with digital distraction, is that when cell phones are allowed to interrupt a conversation or replace the conversation that is going on, their use is often a cop-out for intimacy and also demonstrates an inability to set boundaries in a fast-paced, ever-connected world.
Put simply: Excessive cell phone use allows us to hide away from our primary relationships…if we don't really want to engage face to face for whatever reason. If we are squirming in our seats during a conversation that is not going the way we like, we may check the screen to see if anything, something, could please possibly call our attention away.
As we head toward becoming a nation of hyper-stimulated phone junkies, not only do we hide from others but from ourselves, and our deepest thoughts and feelings.
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Have you or your spouse ever spent a day being entertained by your phones, without making contact with another human being? Be honest here. And when was the last time you spent an entire day with your spouse and never checked your phone? Be honest here too.
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