I love technology. I just can't get enough of it sometimes- I want the latest gadget, app, hardware or software program. I love that it's made doing business across the world with colleagues a joy, and I love staying in touch with all my family and friends that are scattered far and wide. I can't imagine life without it.
However, with all the advances in technology to help us communicate faster, cheaper and clearer, many people are more lonely and isolated than ever before.
Whatever your position on technology, the simple facts are, we can't avoid it. Technology is embedded into every part of our day, from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep at night. Unless you live in a cave, or somewhere very remote with no contact with others, we actually need technology to go about our day-to-day living.
The problem is, technology can get in the way of healthy relating. Here are some of the most common problems I see with technology and relationships:
Technology promotes connection AND disconnection
For some people, they can use technology to create psyeudo-connection. By this I mean a person can create the illusion or perception that they are very connected, engaged and vibrant, when the reality is they are anything but. This tends to happen when a person does all their engaging online, yet doesn't meet with people in the offline world.
Unfortunately, I meet many people in my practice who are profoundly lonely, disconnected and isolated from others, yet by all appearances, are very connected with technology. They may have hundreds of Facebook friends or Twitter followers, yet their cries of loneliness go unheard.
The key here is to find a balance of connection online AND connection offline. I think technology is great to facilitate connection, but then take it into the real world, where something of substance can be developed.
Relationship connections with technology can be shallow
Technology can help you initiate relationships and connect with people that you may not have been able to previously. This is a wonderful aspect of technology. I have met colleagues all over the world, and even become wonderful friends with some of them, all facilitated by technology.
But on the flip side, technology can promote superficial and shallow relationships. While you may have 350 Facebook friends, how many of them could you truly lean on in a time of crisis? The dilemma here is that while you may have many surface-level relationships with technology, you might be missing a couple of key people in your life that can really make a difference to you and your well-being.
Technology can mean instant gratification and lasting relationship dissatisfaction
Technology has certainly promoted our culture of instant gratification and the need for fast and immediate satisfaction. If you buy something online, you now expect an instant email confirming all your purchase details and the ability to track the expedited delivery of your item. Or you download a movie and feel dismayed at having to wait 30 minutes (or more) for the download.