A guest post by Jovell Alingod
Even with the most devoted couples, it seems that once-common conversations in bed have been replaced with endless scrolling through social media apps or funny image-based sites – individually.
Is the internet putting up a barrier between people, even in bed?
We compulsively carry our smartphones with us wherever we go. The classroom, the bathroom, the bedroom, the outdoors — our phone is always in hand as if it were some magic self-defense tool capable of protecting us from all that is evil in the world.
It all happened so fast. We didn’t have the time to set any boundaries for smartphone usage, and now we find ourselves unable to save our relationships and form meaningful interactions with those dear to us.
Smartphones are very useful in many circumstances. However, although not ruining your relationships per se, they can harm it in devious ways.
Lack of Mindfulness
A smartphone is a modern day distraction that is so common, it’s hardly noticed any more. It accompanies us wherever we go, demanding our attention multiple times a day. A phone call, a Facebook notification, oh look someone just pinned my cake pops recipe!
We become irrevocably immersed in our digital lives, prioritizing the virtual world over anything else. Is it really that important to Instagram your dinner, rather than actually savoring it and sharing your impressions – or maybe a forkful of the dish – with the person next to you?
Smartphones get in the way of our relationships, making it impossible for us to wholeheartedly devote our attention to the present moment. As a result, we lose many moments of wonder that are unique and never to be lived again.
Why pay a $50 to see your favorite band, if you’re going to watch the whole thing through your smartphone camera anyway?
Loss of Communication
Smartphones can be the culprit of communication breakdown among couples.
Intimacy is hard to achieve or maintain when your phone keeps beeping with alerts, notifications and email reminders. A constant, merciless distraction, our smartphones have come to replace deep-felt, long conversations in view of non-urgent, shallow tasks; retweeting a fun tweet, updating your Facebook status for the 136th time.
In fact, some people talk more about their relationships on Facebook than they do face-to-face with the person they’re actually in a relationship with!
We’re becoming so obsessed over how our lives look to others through the digital glass that we forget how significant it is to live, invest and relish in the present moment and the reality we’re in.
Why choose to communicate through social media, rather than enjoy a friend’s company? Or better yet, do something together, other than sitting side by side staring at the displays on your individual devices?
Inevitably, excessive smartphone use drives us away from each other, and we only choose to communicate impersonally and for superficial matters. Somehow, bonding and intimacy no longer appeal to us, making it impossible for us to build any new, sincere relationships.
Destabilization of Relationships
To sustain a relationship it needs to be based on constant give and take, where we think about someone else at least as much as we think about ourselves. Smartphones upset this balance.
They can turn us into selfish, nonempathetic individuals who are only worried how many likes their Instagram photo received, or how many times their meme got repinned. We place too much emphasis on our digital lives, and we lose sight of the urgency and beauty of the everyday.
This leads to a vicious circle, where the more we interact with the digital world, the more we . . .
- become indifferent to the real world and people;
- get attached to the meaningless approval of strangers online;
- seek validity and recognition from people we don’t know;
- fail to see or interact with people we do know;
- lose the connections to the real world and real people;
- depend on the virtual world.
Prioritizing the Wrong Models of Communication
We’ve become convinced that our mobile alerts and notifications are urgent no matter what. We feel the urge to reply or check our email and social media accounts over and over again like our lives depended on it.
As a result, we’ve become overly attached to digital communication, regarding real life communication as secondary.
We exchange the depth and quality of face-to-face interactions with shallow and impersonal connections. We have fallen under the delusion that smartphones improve our experiences and relationships, when in reality, they’re slowly eating them alive.
We sabotage our happiness and wreak havoc with our relationships, failing to see which is more important in our life. Small, precious moments are slipping away because we’re focused on reading all of our emails, and we get unreasonably anxious if we put our phones away even for 30 minutes.
Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether being disconnected is, after all, really that hard. Do we really need our smartphones in the bathroom or in bed?
Stress and Smartphone Separation Anxiety
Unless you put boundaries to your phone usage, you will become addicted to it. You don’t even have to take a smartphone addiction test to see if you’re addicted to it.
Are you unwilling to take a test like that because you’re scared of the results? That’s enough of an indication in itself.
Apparently, somewhere along the way, we lost sight what real-life priorities look like. As you might expect, our mobile device obsession weakens our relationships, drives people away and disappoints and hurts others.
We have it all wrong. We shouldn’t feel stressed and anxious when we’re in phone-free zones, we should be relieved. Relieved that we can cherish special moments happening each day, relieved we can be mindful of the present moment which will never be repeated. Relieved that we’re unreachable, free to make good use of our time and our relationships.
Author: Jovell Alingod is a Project Manager for eReflect – a world leader in self-improvement software for vocabulary, spelling, typing, and speed reading with tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.