Last week I wrote a post about the need to slow down over the summer. My wife read the post and immediately shared it with a comment saying we must do this! Obviously it’s needed in our marriage.
One of the things I suggested in the post was to take at least a week off of electronics. Our devices and the flood of information constantly bombarding us pull us away from our relationships. It’s something that has become a major problem for some relationships and has even caused them to end.
Technology addictions and relationship problems
I watched a video on CNN about a former America’s Next Top Model contestant, Kim Stolz, who wrote an entire book about her “addiction” to technology. Her problem caused her to lose two separate relationships, and her friends wouldn’t even go to dinner with her unless she would give them her cell phone. That’s a serious problem!
The sad part is I think her story is more common than not. She is just one of the few who realized the problem and actually took action to change by doing a week-long digital detox. In the video, Kim made some very good points about how the constant stimulus of information dulls our senses and doesn’t allow us to fully experience relationships the way we were intended.
Technology addiction? Not me!
The problem is those of us who are addicted don’t know what to do when we don’t have a device with us or some sort of tech feeding us constant information. I see it in my kids all the time. We don’t allow them to watch TV very often, typically only on weekends and only for a few hours. But sometimes we let them have free reign over the TV, and it’s always a big mistake.
Once the TV goes off they are “bored,” they “don’t have anything to do,” and they don’t seem to remember how to play (or think) at all. But when TV is consistently absent, they are playing with anything you put in front of them, they are reading books, they are engaging with one another and having a blast.
Your relationship or your tech toys?
That’s what our relationships are missing due to our technology addiction. For those of us who have this problem, our relationships are probably half of what they could be. But the only way to fix this is to make changes to your techie tendencies.
5 ways to remove technology’s negative effect on your relationship:
1. Don’t bring your phone on any dates for the next month
This goes for those married or just dating. Leave your phone at home, or at a minimum in the glove box (turned off) in the car. Leave no room for temptation. If you have kids or think you’ll need it for an emergency, then give someone the phone number and location of where you’ll be. Go old-school. (Remember we haven’t always had cell phones.)
2. Dock all your devices when you are with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend
When you get home from work or you visit your significant other, make sure all of your devices are put up. Phones, tablets, laptops, and everything else. Sit with them and talk with them. This may be challenging because your senses have been dulled, so the next thing should help …
3. Bring a list of questions or conversation starters
My wife and I experience a taste of this when our kids leave for the weekend. The first few moments are weird because we’ve had a 4-, 8-, or 13-year-old creating conversations and/or our conversations have been all about said 4-, 8-, or 13-year-olds. I had a list of questions to ask my wife the last time this happened but we didn’t even need them.
4. Anytime you are in the presence of another person, do not have your phone in your hand
“Put the phone down and step away, sir/ma’am!” If that device is in your hand, you will check it at some point. Stolz said any time she saw a light blink, she instinctively thought it was her phone and tried to check it. I think you will be surprised how different things are when you are in someone’s presence without your phone surgically attached to your hand.
5. Turn your phone off
I think some of us don’t even realize there’s an off button. Turn your phone off and see how long you can leave it off. Will it be minutes, hours, a day, a week? Challenge yourself until not having your phone or leaving your phone off isn’t a big deal any more. While doing this, your mind will be open to so many other stimulating thoughts and conversations that you’ll be amazed.
Years ago we didn’t have mobile phones and tech gadgets with us all the time, which means the challenges above are not impossible. You just have to make the choice. Make the choice to choose authentic and engaging relationships instead of short, quick, artificial stimuli in place of our relationships. Enjoy the “new” relationships you develop!
Are you willing to take the challenge?
photo credit: photopin