Maybe you’re too young to remember when people went on dates and actually talked to each-other, without the intrusion of technology into their interactions. Maybe you can’t remember a time when people just hung out together and connected.
I can and I have to say, I miss those days. It used to be that people could really get to know each-other by spending time together. We’d talk about all sorts of things – our hopes, dreams and fears – until we began to feel that ineffable thing known as a “connection.”
Today, technology is ubiquitous. We bring our phones everywhere and look at them dozens, if not hundreds of times a day. We spend more time interacting with our technology than we do with the people in our lives.
And all the time we spend with our technology is making it harder for us to connect with other people. Recent studies bear out this notion. I wrote an article in 2016 about how our addiction to technology is making dating even harder than it usually is.
An NBC poll from 2015 showed that more than 70% of Americans believe that technology is making our relationships weaker, and a 2016 Time Magazine article by Mandy Oaklander quotes a study published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, which found that “people who were more dependent on their smartphones reported being less certain about their partnerships,” and that “People who felt that their partners were overly dependent on their devices said they were less satisfied in their relationship.”
Everywhere you go, you can see how technology has changed the way people interact. I was out last New Year’s eve, having dinner in a nice restaurant. Across from us, a young couple sat with their faces buried in their phones.
I felt so sad for these youngsters who were missing out on the fun and fulfillment of human connection because their priority was to focus on their phones.
These days, fed up musicians and venue managers are more often insisting that concert-goers lock up their phones in a Yondr pouch or leave their technology at home. I’ve read several articles from people who did this and the universal response is that these people were more able to “live in the moment” and enjoy the direct experience of the concert, rather than being caught up in documenting it for social media.
Recently, a school in California was considering having locked phone pouches for its students, so that they could disconnect from technology and be more present for the social and academic experiences available to them at school.
In Philadelphia, they’re asking people who enter the courthouse to put their phones in pouches, and although some are resistant to this plan, most are willing to go along with it.
Last May, I was interviewed by Jason Osler of CBC radio about how some coffee shops have stopped providing Wifi, in the hopes that their patrons would begin talking to one-another again.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were given phone-locking pouches whenever we entered a restaurant? Each dining establishment could have a landline to take emergency calls but otherwise, guests would be forced to interact with one-another, as opposed to spending their meal engaged primarily with their technology.
For daters, this would be ideal, as they’d have no other option than to get to know the person sitting across from them. They wouldn’t be able to avoid any potentially uncomfortable human contact by keeping their noses stuck in their phones.
Yes, it might be awkward at first as everyone readjusts to having no technological buffer zone between them and the other person but I imagine that soon enough, they’d get the hang of it; sort of like riding a bicycle. After all, we’re communal beings, built to make connections. It shouldn’t be that difficult to re-learn what we’ve forgotten.
Not that long ago, I wrote a couple of books for my Short and Sweet Guides to Life series. One was a book for men, entitled, “Women Decoded”, which is meant to help men understand women and recognize certain behaviours in women that they might want to avoid.
The other is a dating book for women wanting to get “Back on the Market” after divorce or widowhood. In this book, I list a number of “red flags” a woman should pay attention to as she’s getting to know a new man.
If both men and women are overly focused on their technology, it’ll be impossible for them to notice the warning signs, avoid the toxic individuals and enter into positive relationships.
These days, more and more studies are showing that we’re struggling to make meaningful connections with one-another. Technology is incredibly useful but it’s not perfect. One way I think it’s harming us is in how easy it makes it to avoid the discomfort of getting to know each-other or confronting each-other over a problem.
One of the sweetest things in life is the courtship phase of a relationship in which we get to know all the weird and wonderful things about each-other and begin to feel the growing bond. Technology is ruining our courtships and making us miss out on these precious, joyful moments.
One of the best ways to deepen a connection with someone is to confront them – in a loving, respectful manner – about something they did that upset us or something they didn’t do that we needed them to do.
If they respond well, it takes our trust of them to a whole new level and creates a connection that’s rock-solid. Tragically, technology is making this increasingly difficult, as it gives us so many options for avoiding any uncomfortable interactions.
Is it too much to ask that we put down our phones and actually have a conversation? With or without the Yondr pouch, I vote to spend more time with our phones shut off so that we can communicate and commune with one-another. Who knows what amazing things could come of it?
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