The Effects Of Technology On Relationships
Posted by Alex Lickerman Print Print Email Email to a friend
Photo: Steve Keys
Email, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Delicious, Digg, LinkedIn, blogs (of course), and scores of others—all part of the new and wonderful ways we can now connect with one another electronically, each with its own culture and unique set of rules. In one sense, the planet has never been more interconnected. And yet, this interconnectedness, while wonderful, hasn’t come without cost.
Much has been written about the dangers of Internet addiction. From pornography to merely surfing the web, the Internet is clearly the television of the 21st century, an electronic drug that often yanks us away from the physical world. Like any addiction, the real cost, for those of us who are truly addicted, is to the number and quality of our relationships with others. We may enjoy online relationships using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, for example, but the difference between these kinds of interactions and interactions with people in the physical world is clearly vast. As long as we expect no more from these online relationships than they can give, no good reason exists why we can’t enjoy the power of social media sites to connect us efficiently to people we’d otherwise not touch. The problem, however, comes when we find ourselves subtly substituting electronic relationships for physical ones or mistaking our electronic relationships for physical ones. We may feel we’re connecting effectively with others via the Internet, but too much electronic-relating paradoxically engenders a sense of social isolation.
Making our meaning clear electronically presents extra challenges. For example, we write things like “LOL” and “LMAO” to describe our laughter, but they’re no real substitute for hearing people laugh, which has real power to lift our spirits when we’re feeling low.
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