So is it just me or has the whole world gone digital? Most of the generation that follows me and even some of my own generation seem to be glued to their cell phones purposely growing fingernails shaped for texting or BBMs. While I see many advantages to having the World Wide Web in one’s back pocket, there are also some potential drawbacks. The paradox is that no time in history have people been more connected than today, yet are we truly connecting? There is unlimited access to mindless information. How easy it is to get sucked into status updates or go surfing with no specific purpose only to find hours have vanished? Who could survive without “Google”, referred to by a workshop presenter recently as “God”? The concern as a therapist and a parent for me is the superficiality of these forms of communication. What I’ve quickly discovered is that cyber space connection is no match for a good old fashioned telephone conversation or even better yet a face to face visit. In this 20 minute presentation, Sherry Turkle, a psychologist with MIT describes her 15+ years of researching people’s relationship to technology and evokes this warning; people are losing the ability to express and process deep emotion. Technology becomes the shield to hide behind and avoid causing us to feel alone rather than connected. Worse yet, without the all important body language clues and tone of voice, many messages can be misinterpreted and make the problem even worse, causing undue stress.
As a therapist, I’ve witnessed an even more alarming use of technology in the rise of emotional affairs. People seem to justify having intimate or conversations of a sexual nature with someone other than their partner, even strangers when done via texting or online. I am amazed at how easily and often innocently this process begins. Perhaps, it is the distance, anonymity or maybe the feeling of escape that creates the appeal but the reality is the potential damage these kinds of relationships can have is devastating.
While I believe technology is an instrumental part of pretty much everyone’s life, I urge you to use it with caution. Young people need to learn as Brene Brown explains, vulnerability, not social masks is imperative to really connecting with another and to feel a sense of belonging. Relationships are not supposed to be easy, they involve risks and a willingness to work together to solve problems. That means we have to show up and be real. At least that is what I think.
I would love to hear your take on the pros and cons of the world’s love affair with technology. Share your comments with us on Facebook
Nicole Aug 5/12