Relationships: How Cell Phones and Computers Impact Relationships

Cell phones and computers change how we do relationships–not always for  the better. The more devices we use the less we need human contact.

I remember the gigantic box that housed the tiny television viewing when televisions first came into homes and there were three channels. All the shows were live and anything could happen—and sometimes did. Commercials were live too.

When I was nine transistor radios came out. Oh man. How cool was it to carry around a small (by the standards in the 1960s) your music without having to plug in anything!

Life back then was so different. People talked to each other live in person. You did things together without having to plug in anything or get special devices. And best of all you had your privacy. When you were not home no one could call you and bug you. No one interrupted your time together.

When you left work—you left work. People didn’t worry about losing business if they were not available 24/7!

When you went to a restaurant you talked with the people at the table not with others not even present! You didn’t know every little bit of personal information about others unless they chose to share themselves with you.

Life was peaceful and quiet–and intimate.

Then computers happened.

Suddenly the world shrank down to a small blue marble. When I was a kid we had to schedule international calls two weeks in advance and hope the connection allowed us to converse. Now you sit down at your computer and video chat at any time—without paying $12 per minute.

I love my computer and I feel very grateful for all the devices that make life easier. There seems to be some device to uncomplicate and speed up most chores theses days.

When I was moving across the country during a severe winter storm and came upon a closed super highway with a detour, the signs directed us off the road but never told us how to get back on. I used my cell phone to reach a friend with a computer who found where I was and directed me back to civilization.

I would not want to be without my modern conveniences. However I turn off my cell phone and computer to enjoy being with friends and family. Have you ever been with someone while they ignored you to talk or text on their cell phone?

I like quiet. I like being fully present with those whom I find myself physically present.

I like to choose when to connect. And with caller ID I get to decide if I even want to connect at all! That luxury currently evades me on places like Facebook where the moment I pop on someone wants to chat despite the fact that I disable my availability.

You know what is ironic? All these “must-haves” that are so everywhere present were designed to give us more leisure time. The result is that people have less leisure time to kick back and just Be.

How about you? Do you find life easier?

Are your relationships better because of cell phones, texting and computers with instant messaging? Does modern civilization help or hinder creating and maintaining close relationships?

About Ali Bierman

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8 Responses to Relationships: How Cell Phones and Computers Impact Relationships

  1. I love my technology – but it does cause some hiccups.

    Funny you should post this now – my son and his wife are married 1 year on Sunday. They’re VERY tech oriented (face-timeing each other from livingroom to bedroom) BUT this week they’re going on a tech “fast”. Nothing after work hours that has anything to do with phone, computer, internet, TV, etc. They invited anyone who wants to connect with them this week to come over to their home and play a boardgame…

    • Ali Bierman says:

      How cool is that? Thanks for sharing, Lori. I am really into games. When my kids were growing (before the electronics boom) we played music together and lots of games (indoors and outdoors). Personally I like simple things, the ones where you use your imagination!

  2. Beth says:

    I am like you and cannot get used to being with a friend while they are in another conversation with someone on her cell. I still find that rude. I value the relationship enough to be with that person….and they should, too!

    Funny, I wrote about relationships today, too, only in a completely different context…. http://emtnester.blogspot.com/2011/10/understanding-defining-points-to.html.

    • Ali Bierman says:

      I feel exactly the same. I remember when call waiting first came out–took a while to not feel rude if I felt a need to answer. Big relief having caller ID so I only answer important calls that can’t wait. I think people are important and we get too little time to spend with those we care about who do not live or work with us. That is how I feel.
      I usually write about relationship[s–that is what I do in all my work. I will go see what you wrote, Beth.

  3. I use a single number. It rings everywhere. So, when I come home, the cell phone gets put in the charger- and stays there until I leave the house (unless it’s a holiday, when I can’t use it.) I answer the phone only when I am not eating dinner or sharing time with my friends and family- unless I already know there is an emergency pending and have afforded my companions the warning.
    It’s the only way to control my time- and give attention to where it’s due.
    It helps that I have cohorts, who pick up the calls at various hours when the incoming number matches that in our client database.

    • Ali Bierman says:

      Same with me, Roy. I have a single number that rings all my phones. I look at the oncoming caller ID to see of I want to answer right then. I leave my cell in the car when I go in any where to be with other people–unless something is going on and I need to be available. I think it is about respect–for ourselves and for others.

  4. Kama says:

    I also make it a habit to turn off my phone when I am with others. I don’t wish to be a slave to my phone. I find the computer less obtrusive unless people are on their computers during a meeting, then I know they are not actually listening. Interesting subject.

    • Ali Bierman says:

      I know what you mean, Kama. What bothers me most about computers is that each family member understandably has their own–in their own rooms which means people do not even sit together in the same room much any more. The family is disintegrating–and that hurts everyone.

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