Every relationship requires some face-to-face interaction. But with today’s communication technology, which has spawned smartphones, artificial intelligence, and social media, it’s become way too easy to send a text or a tweet to a partner instead of meeting them in person to celebrate, work things out, or just hang. In fact a recent survey shows that 57 percent of a group of 500 Americans polled said they have broken up with someone via a text message, and not in person.
“Matchmaking will always exist; there is no technical replacement for physical chemistry.” – Amber Kelleher CEO Kelleher International
This trend is accelerating to a point where even social scientists and trend setters are uncertain of what’s coming next. With talk of connecting one mind with another via the internet it could be a wonderful breakthrough in relationship building, or it could be a nightmare that reinforces isolation to a terrible extent.
The only thing that is for certain is that a relationship today may not bear much resemblance to a relationship of twenty, forty, or sixty years ago. The same basic instincts and desires still fuel every relationship, but how those instincts and desires are addressed has become so technologized that Baby Boomers and those in even older brackets are rapidly losing track of what new technology offers in the way of communication and relationship dynamics.
Taking a look at some of the most modern technology phenomena may be helpful in determining whether it’s impacting the relationship imperative for good or bad.
The digital dating game
Recent research indicates that online dating is not as popular as most people think. The fact is that only about fifteen-percent of American adults have used online dating in the past year. Still, the perception that online dating has become ubiquitous is widespread and certainly influences many single people’s decisions on how to establish a relationship. Social gatherings, of course, were once the staple of meeting others, dating them, and perhaps taking the relationship further. Today Millennials and the younger demographics take it for granted that it’s not only possible but probably desirable to meet someone online and develop a relationship without have met in person. These cyber relationships give a sense of community and fulfillment without actually committing the partners to anything in particular. Unhealthy? Probably. But it’s no worse than the fashion of having ‘pen pals’ from sixty years ago.
More connected yet more lonely
Social media offers limitless opportunities to interact (online) with as many others as desired. Most American adults under the age of sixty tweet and text in a constant stream of communication that may actually have very little human heart to it. A person sitting in a coffee shop keeping up an online conversation with four other people about the latest Star Wars movie may feel he or she is having a stimulating experience, but in truth it’s usually a fruitless use of time that that does not deepen understanding of another or of the self.
It’s not a small world; it’s a microscopic world
The technology behind Skype and Twitter means that distance has become meaningless. But can one person develop a sincere and viable relationship with someone else when there is no chance they will meet unless they pay exorbitantly for airfare? It’s not impossible, but it is improbable.
Perhaps the key to all this is that if two people will commit to complete respect and commitment to each other then technology is not going to hamper their productive relationship, but help it along.