Staying Intimate In The Internet Age
I love the internet. I’ve got the Mac, the iPhone, and I’m online for a big part of most days. Sometimes my computer is on all day. There are days when most of the human contact I have with others takes place online. So what, sounds normal to me, right? Maybe.
I keep hearing about the ‘effects’ of technology on human relations. I hear things like, since the advent of social media, we are not spending as much ‘quality time’ with each other. That a lot of us are reserving their human interactions for texting, Facebook, and Twitter. That we can be in the same room with each other texting each other without saying a word to each other. Is this normal?
My teenage son told me that talking on the phone to his friends is less common than texting now, reserving the former for ’emergencies.’ Is there something to worry about? Is it happening so subtly and as a by product of all the efficiency and fun we are having that nobody is noticing?
Without sounding paranoid, let’s think about the effects technology is having on intimacy and love. I believe that if we are aware of the possible limiting influences, we can use that awareness to ‘balance’ ourselves off, so to speak, and make doubly sure we don’t lose anything ‘vital’ (meaning what is truly alive) as we live our technological lives. I think most of us would agree that it’s not good to isolate all day online for multiple days at a stretch, especially if it’s a lifestyle. A certain amount of human contact, hanging out with other people, is necessary in order to recalibrate our humanity.
If you’re single and online all the time, there is a possibility that you could be sacrificing the quality time you could be spending in the presence of friends and eligible partners. Then again, you could tell me about all the friends you’ve collected on Facebook. If you could only integrate the two. Loads of friends on Facebook and time out and about with friends (in the real world) that would ensure you are making yourself available for all the interpersonal things you need in your life.
Like anything else, once you become aware of a problem, you’ll naturally start thinking about the need for a solution. It might feel bad at first to realize you’ve sacrificed a little too much and detached yourself a little too much, but you could consider the bad feeling that go with this awareness to be the emotional motivator for changes.
As far as love goes, love still remains one of those human experiences you can’t do detached from people. Making yourself available is a must. I suspect our online experiences can be a very efficient way of finding out who has ‘potential.’ But the bottom line is, you’ll have to get out there and spend the time needed to get to know people on more intimate levels.
Plus, intimacy as the kind of up close and personal type of relationship we can have with another human being is definitely something you ‘practice.’ It can obviously be easier for some people than others for a bunch of reasons. Regardless, the practice would involve not allowing discomforts (mistakes, rejections, awkwardness, etc.) that come and go to deter you away from getting good at making (in vivo) good friends and keeping them. Every once and a while you’ll meet a ‘friend’ that responds with something beautiful and unexpected.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan