Where does technology disconnect us? And connect us?

Posted Friday, October 31st, 2014. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I was listening to a radio program and this girl, early 20s, called in for “advice”. She was telling the radio hosts that she met this guy about a month ago and they began to date. She told them she really enjoyed texting and bantering back and forth with this guy and it was great. The problem was when they were in front of one another there was nothing to say — it was boring. So she asked the hosts if she should continue to date.

The hosts’ answer was almost sarcastic, “You should only have a long distance relationship with him, than you will have a great relationship”.

I laughed. In seriousness, this is a huge issue for our children. I see it with my own children. They would rather text than call, and making the effort to hang out in person is a huge effort. For me growing up I relished the times I could hang out with my girl friends. I loved it. I still do but unfortunately everyone is so busy.

What concerns me is about our youth’s inability to communicate and build healthy relationships. This is what I have been teaching through my life skills’ workshops: ability to communicate, build relationships and articulate to another person – this can be your partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, teacher, colleague and/or interview situation.

We have lost or at best misunderstood what is communication. Communication is much more than words. Words only have 7% value. We have allowed technology to become front and centre in our ability to communicate when in fact it plays a part. I recognize it plays a big part especially when connecting our world however it has also disconnected. There is less in-person human interaction. We are still human beings and removing that element is wreaking havoc on our children.

The perfect example is this girl. She can create a relationship that I call arms-length. We are learning to hide behind technology to “express” ourselves. We feel that we can be brave and say anything we want and we are protected by that distance. However, face to face, you have to look at the person, hear their tone of voice, look at their body language and whether this is conscious or not it has a different impact than if we sent the same message through email, text or online.

I was telling my son that there is documented proof that babies in an orphanage who received human touch lived longer and were healthier than those that did not. As humans we are meant to connect with one another – not superficially – on deeper physical, mental and spiritual levels. Again, I understand the importance of technology to “bring people together”, however let’s not dismiss the importance of face-to-face building relationships, showing that we care, i.e., giving someone a hug because they are down not just a text “thinking of you”.

I believe we are heading down a dangerous path. As parents and guides we can have an impact. It means leading by example. I love my phone as much as the next person however when I am at dinner or in a social situation my phone goes away. I think what I love about our family dinners is when there are 14 sitting around is the talk and bantering. I may not agree with all that is said but I can let that go. I don’t even need to comment.

This weekend take time to put all technology away and sit with your children, even if it seems like you are forcing them, and have a 5 minutes face-to-face conversation. They may not like it. Somehow we need to teach them the importance of building relationships of substance and meaning. I tell people if you have something to say, say it to my face.

Maybe it’s just a hug or smile when you are listening. This feeling of support and encouragement is something only felt and not said. It can have such a positive impact.

I am sure I will speak more on this.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend.

All my love,

Sandra

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