Technology Takes Byte Out of Love
Computers haveincreasingly become an integral, even intimate, part of our daily life. They havechanged the way we do our work and the way we communicate with others, but theyalso have become a huge source of distraction, even discord, in ourrelationships. Americans, you see, are falling in love with their computers.
Technology hasmade it possible for people to work on their computers almost anytime, anywhere.“Eighty-four percent of people are more dependent on their computers than theywere a couple of years ago,” Technology consultant Anthony Rodio says. That’swhy so many people have difficulty getting off-line.
Rodio: We foundpeople are more likely to have a strong relationship with the computer once theyhave to rely on it for work. Frequently, when they get home, they get on itunder the pretense that they're getting on it for work. But then they quicklydevolve into doing other types of surfing as well.
A survey byRodio’s company, Support.com, found that the user-computer relationship often interfereswith the user’s human relationship. “Almost two thirds of Americans now saythey spend more time with their computer than their spouse.”
Rodio says thisclose reliance on computers can affect the time people do spend with others.“If there is a problem with your computer, feelings are so intense because youare so dependent on your computer. It leads to anger, alienation and sadness.That then spills over into problems in their personal relationship as well.”
PsychotherapistLinda Miles, co-author of The New Marriage, says computers have become a distractionin many relationships. “You can go for weeks and weeks and not even look atyour partner. It’s very important to make connections everyday with yourpartner, to not put up walls with each other.”
Technology canbecome an addiction, according to relationship expert David Coleman, the “Dating Doctor”. He compares it to having anaffair. “You would say someone is having an affair that used to mean that theyare having an affair with another person. That doesn’t necessarily mean thatanymore. People can have an affair with technology. They can have an affairwith their computers, basically being on their computer all the time. You knowyou’ve heard over the years about the responsible use of alcohol, theresponsible use of tobacco, I think we're heading toward the responsible use ofelectronics.”
People usetechnology not just to get information, but to communicate. Coleman warns that relyingtoo heavily on e-mails, text messages and instant messages can hurt a personalrelationship, because there’s no give and take, no chance to see the otherperson’s reaction. “Let’s say that you are in a relationship with someone andthere is something that you really need to discuss with that person about thatrelationship. Before, you would normally do it face to face. Now a lot ofpeople text each other a message or they will send each other an e-mail. Whatthat does is it lets them get their entire point out, exactly the way they wantto say it, without any chance of being interrupted. It’s very one sided, untilyou get the response back from the other person.”
However, Colemansays, if used properly, technology can enhance personal relationships. “Let's say that the person you're involvedwith－your husband, yourwife, a boyfriend or a girlfriend －you know that they have a very tough day and you don'twant to bother them during that day and you can send them a simple text-messagethat says, ‘I’m thinking about you, I love you, hang in there.’”
As Americanscelebrate Valentine's Day this week, Coleman suggests that dedicating more timeand undivided attention in person can be the best gift to loved ones,especially in our high-tech world