From the Snapchat stories posted for one particular person’s eyes to faking dramatic text messages so it seems like you have an adorable boyfriend, everything seems staged in our society.
It’s an era of immediacy, one in which we’d much rather send a Snapchat spewing the latest drama than to meet and talk about it in person. Don’t get me wrong, I text my friends and post pictures from our latest photo-op, but using technology as a substitute for confrontation is tearing down real relationships and building disingenuous ones.
Given that forming relationships through technology has become the standard, it’s not a surprise that we struggle to maintain depth with real-life interaction.
But that’s not how it should be.
Relationships are the one thing that should remain untouched by the latest problems or trends — and especially by technology.
If you get excited when your crush Snapchats you, imagine how you’d feel if they surprised you with flowers, or your favorite Starbucks drink. We shouldn’t believe the highest form of flattery we can have is a Snapchat streak.
Technology has given us an opt-out of the real conversations — face-to-face, in person ones — and it needs to change. We should have conversations where body language and tone are observable to develop genuine conversation, which can’t happen over the phone — the true emotions don’t shine through our Bitmojis. If you spend your young adult years hiding from physical interaction, how do you think co-worker conversations will go? You usually can’t retweet your boss when you agree with her.
77% of 18 to 22 year olds prefer text over any form of communication according to Psychology Today.
People have no problem telling someone they’re mad they weren’t invited to their house with the rest of the friend group over text because it’s easier. They don’t have to deal with the reality of the situation. They don’t have to see the teary eyes and scrunched face behind the screen or come up with an immediate, effective response.
That doesn’t make it right.
This trend, that scarily has become the standard, is causing teens to take the easy way out when it comes to problem solving in relationships — you can avoid responding altogether by “not seeing” the text. But if you can’t say something to someone’s face, you shouldn’t be texting it to them.
No, I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry if you’re not sorry enough to tell it to my face. It doesn’t mean the same thing.
With our phones glued onto our hands checking to see if our latest post has hit 500 likes yet, we don’t always look up to see what’s going on around us. I can’t count the number of times I’ve told my friends a story only to realize half-way through they’re more interested in Shane Dawson ‘s latest tweet about his new eyeshadow palette.
Our quickness to use our phones as emotional barriers goes back to our emotional intelligence. 10 years from now when we’re living in new places, we’ll be unable to meet people in conventionally social ways. We’re conditioned to meet people through “Quick Add” on Snapchat, so how could we?
Technology chips away silently at our emotional IQ, which determines our capability to recognize feelings of ourselves and others. Without the need for in-the-flesh communication, we dispel the skills needed to interact successfully in person because of the illusion that we don’t need them.
But we’re the last of the lucky ones. We didn’t grow up with iPads at restaurants or iPhones on the playground. We had to meet people as children, so we at least know what it takes to build real relationships — and just commenting “omg you’re perfect can I be you” on someone’s latest Instagram post or adding them to your private Snapchat story won’t ever mean anything of substance.
It’s important to grab coffee or lunch with friends to stay updated on what’s really going on in their lives, not just what they feel comfortable texting. Being there for our friends is what we show through our actions — picking them up to do something fun when they’re upset or going to their family dinners. There’s no amount of texts or comments that can prove loyalty like showing up and being there. Friendships don’t need to be digital, and sometimes they’re best left offline.
Call me old-fashioned, but the best relationships are those where you’re not concerned with texting, where you can just call and ask to hang out and be with them 10 minutes later.
So yes, technology gives us a great platform to build our intelligence. But if it’s creating a society where the only relationships people know aren’t real, we’re better off without it.