Our ability to connect more easily to the rest of the world seems to have left many people less connected in their real life relationships. I’m always amazed at how many people I see ignoring the person next to them while they talk or text on cell phones or check emails on BlackBerries. I also notice how many people post problems to LuvemOrLeavem that are centered around technology invading their homes in the form of FaceBook, chatrooms, and even video games.

I have written before about the many problems that come from using technology for any type of cybersex relationship, and most people do seem to recognize just how destructive this behavior can be to a relationship. When it comes to what most people view as “normal” uses of technology; however, many people do not notice the problems that an overuse of technology can cause. In fact, most people view many of the most overused technical devices as harmless and even a “natural” part of everyday life. The problem is that they often take away precious time that we should be spending with our loved ones. With that said, there are some basic rules that are rooted in common courtesy, that can eliminate letting technology destroy our relationships.

Cell Phones- If you are out with a real live person, enjoy their company and forget about the phone. Unless it’s your child, or some dire emergency call, just let it go to voice mail and call them back later. In any case, there is never a reason to be on a long phone call while you are out with someone. The most offensive thing is when I see people that are on a cell phone while they are out having dinner with someone. The other person looks bored to tears. To add insult to injury, when you catch a bit of their conversation you will often hear the person say into their phone “nothing, what are you doing?” The rules for texting and mobile email are the same as for talking-emergency use only.

“Socializing” on the Internet- This includes FaceBook, Twitter, chatrooms, or any other form of socializing on the internet. If the time you spend with friends online takes away from time that you can spend with real live people, then there is a problem. I hear complaints all the time from men and women about how their partner will ignore them and sit in front of the computer for hours updating Twitter and FaceBook. As a general rule, I don’t think that you should be socializing on the internet when there are people around you that you can socialize with. I also think it’s a problem if you turn down opportunities to socialize in person in favor of staying home and “socializing” on your computer.

Video Games- Until recently, I thought that video game addiction was strictly a problem that only affected kids. Of course video games have been around for quite some time now. So these kids have had a chance to grow into adults that may never have broken this addiction.

I read about one very sad case where a woman was struggling with how to manage her husband’s video game addiction. He was ignoring her as well as many of his responsibilities in favor of playing these games. She tried learning the games to turn this into something that they could do together, but it consumed too much time. Setting limits on the time spent playing was another thing that she tried, but the addiction almost seemed like that of an alcoholic. Even the smallest amount of playing seemed to turn into hours. After reading her story I really felt that it sounded like he needed to go “cold turkey” when it came to playing video games.

So whether the problem is cell phones, the internet or video games, technology is something that should make our lives simpler. When technology starts to complicate our lives by harming our personal relationships, then it’s time to make some changes in our behavior. If you find that you have trouble setting and sticking to limits on your use of technology, then you may need to seek professional help. It may seem strange to think about seeking help for a technology addiction but it’s better to address it rather than reaching the point where you are more comfortable interacting through technology rather than having face to face conversations.

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