Does Technology & Social Media Improve Relationships?
In an age where we can "check in" at our current location and "tag" who were with, it's possible for anyone to check up on us at any time. Mobile phones create a constant availability which means that our friends can become upset if we don't respond to them instantly. Text message senders can be informed if you have read their message, and can again feel quite hurt and insulted if you don't promptly respond.
Our constant availability while on the move can certainly make life easier, but does it actually help our relationships?
Here's a question. How many of your Facebook friends do you actually see on a regular basis? Personally, I'd say I see about 10% of them. That's not to say that I don't know at least some of what's going on in all of their lives. Then again, the snippets that I do know are from reading their status updates rather than conversing with them.
Personally, I find it a tad strange when I bump into someone who I haven't spoken to in years, and they know everything I'v been doing. They begin asking how my last night out was, and how my family are doing, or if I've managed to overcome some crisis that happened last month... But I am guilty of it myself.
If it wasn't for Facebook, Twitter or IM services, I doubt that I would have ANY kind of relationship with most of my so-called "friends." But- would that really be a bad thing?
Don't get me wrong- technology is fantastic in linking people over the miles without waiting years on a letter.It allows distant relatives to keep in touch and watch each other grow up. In some cases, it reunites people who would otherwise remain separated.
So many heartfelt messages are sent every day at the click of a button- but can it all be too much sometimes?
If my friends and family are reading about what's happening in my life, and vice versa, then how can we have an interesting conversation when we see each other? Even when forming new acquaintances, so much information is on a profile page that it seems silly to ask questions. So is the art of conversation lost?
It has now become so common to add new acquaintances on Facebook or other social sites just after meeting them, that by the time you meet again, you know their history, their hopes of the future, their pet's name and even their bra size!
And even so, returning to existing friends, there doesn't seem to be the sense of exclusivity. It can sometimes feel as though the whole world knows something that, perhaps would have remained private between you, had technology been less evolved.
As well as limiting conversation possibilities, technology can impact relationships in many other ways...
It only takes one episode of Jeremy Kyle to show how the use of technology can cause jealousy between lovers, or fuel a feud that would have fizzed out otherwise. Suspicious partners can spy on their loved ones, often misunderstanding innocent messages between friends. Ex- partners can appear on the scene after 10 years or so. Inter-city affairs can begin, whereas before the world of the internet, those two people may never have met.All of this leads to a world of secrecy. Separate online lives. Multiple email accounts. Different Mobile phones...
If we returned to life before all of this stalker technology, we could go out and just be out. No GPS navigation in your pocket checking you in. No calls every 5 minutes to ask where you are, or to ask you to pick something up on the way home... I also think that we would re-gain some of the satisfaction of being asked how our day was, instead of everyone already knowing. As well as building relationships that are dear to us, rather than spending hours trolling through the doings of someone we once worked with/ went to school with/ met in a pub etc..
In saying all of that though, I can't say that I would give it all up. Which may sound rather hypocritical...
I enjoy being able to speak to relatives across the pond- and being forever able to discover new ones! I love getting a text from my boyfriend to cheer me up on a bad day. I like those close to me knowing how my life's going... But after thinking about it, I may have a clear out of my "friends" list.
I think that i'll also make a point of visiting people more often for a chat, for I fear that I may be seriously out of touch with some of my "closest" friends.
© 2012 Lynsey Hart