Communication with our Signifiant Others has Changed, But for the Better?
New forms of communication change how we interact with our significant others.
It’s clear technology rules the world in the most obvious way: communication. It’s captivated us to to the extent that our focus upon waking up in the morning and before closing our eyes at night is centered around our obsession to check, tweet, update, or post. We catch up on social media like we would catch up with a friend, just slightly more obsessively.
Put simply, technology is changing how we interact and communicate with our significant others. We have the freedom to send what we want when we want and in whatever provocative manner we see fit. It’s captivating in relationships because it promises instant gratification. But we can always hide behind a filter and make ourselves whoever we wish to be, even to our significant others.
John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends, a book chronicling the technology boom stated:
The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.
What does it mean to be human anyway? At this point, does it mean plugging ourselves into the world of technology? To a certain degree, we’re an outcast if we aren’t communicating via social media. As millennials, it’s almost as if the way of the internet is a part of our DNA.
How Far We’ve Come
When technology was in its inception, there were limits to its communication powers. There was no Facetime or Snapchats that could be sent with the notion that they will soon disappear into cyberspace. Anonymous online chat rooms were once private and had both positive and negative impacts. On one hand, chat rooms gave individuals the opportunity to network, communicate, and create relationships without fear of judgment. Call it practice for the real world.
Despite allowing freedom of interaction behind a message board, the cruel language of racism and sometimes aggressive sexual advances began to occur online. But, through the clearing of the many vines that spread in message boards, relationships rose due to accessibility. People were dating and doin’ it left and right. Sex was not in a physical phenomenon as people weren’t necessarily meeting in person anymore. The definition of sex was expanding from the physical to the virtual.
All The “Things” We Do
It’s easier to stay in touch and communicate with our significant others nowadays. It is so simple, it’s almost second nature to us. We can almost instinctively pull out our phone and snap our emotions with a glittery filter that so appropriately symbolizes our pain, happiness, or guilt. With that comes the sexual heat of scantily dressed humans and sexual expression that feels perfectly acceptable in the eyes of many. We are so open and willing to share our intimate lives that we see no fear in sending a picture of our most intimate selves.
For Better or For Worse
Our brains are changing because of the technology shift. Stimulated brain activity weakens our cognitive ability for specific skills we used to rely upon (i.e. human interaction, mirroring emotions, etc). Our ability to read other’s emotions and react in a respectful manner decreases too. This being said, we certainly do see some cognitive gains from the use of technology. We want to read more. This, in turn, stipulates that we might just be more willing to sit down with our partner with a good book or laugh out loud with each other while reading a funny article.
This technology boom alters our ability to share emotions in a therapeutic setting (and outside a therapeutic setting for that matter). This impacts couples in a counseling setting as there might be some resistance to sharing what’s really going on. In the virtual world, a partner turns to social media to post about their level of relationship satisfaction; and that doesn’t always mean it’s going to be positive. Partners are learning about overall satisfaction in their relationships online based off of their partner’s uploads.
In person, we’re susceptible to multitasking. In the internet world, we do just the same. We lack the skills to focus on one thing at a time, leaving our significant other with the short end of the stick in terms of our attention. We might forget to respond or respond in so much detail that our significant other doesn’t want to make the effort to read everything. We often forget.
On the other hand, short and sweet messages have our significant others feeling loved. Short and flirtatious messages are often appreciated by our significant others, as well. They’re quick, sexy, and illicit a response from your partner. Younger individuals are more likely to use their smartphones for soliciting sexual encounters. It can be exciting and can often be satisfying to both partners.
But, in all honesty, we are in danger of an information overload. We tend to become overwhelmed with the amount of information on the internet leaving almost no restrictions and shrinking our worlds all at the same time. Most things on the internet are free (good for both you and me), so we don’t think twice about the copious amounts of information we send and receive on a daily basis knowing we don’t have a bill to pay. The urge to send a dirty picture or flirt during the least productive times of the day can come to fruition, and you can act on it without repercussions.
It’s Not All Bad
The internet does us a lot of good, but it also hinders our ability to really communicate in deep and emotional settings. We lack boundaries and prove to ourselves that we are uncomfortable holding an in-depth conversation in person. We fashion who we are on the internet because it allows us to do so without boundaries. We meet, date, and chat with anyone who will swipe right. It’s not all bad, though. We’ve expanded our ways of communication, showing affection, and relating to one another, which, if we’re being technical, is what it’s all about.
Zilberstein, K. (2015). Technology, Relationships and Culture: Clinical and Theoretical Implications. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(2), 151-158.