R2-D2, WALL-E, and Marvin the Paranoid Android are all the funniest depictions of technology. This lovable character has captured our hearts and hearts – making many of us miss our own robotic friends. With no hope of making android friends any time soon, we choose, instead, to stick to our phones, tablets, and laptops. Yes, these technological devices have become our constant companions. And, sadly, our real human relationships suffer.
How can we live in a technology-driven world, while developing and maintaining close and meaningful relationships with those around us? It’s all about striking a balance and using technology in a way that grows our bonds rather than destroys them. Here are some tips for achieving this.
1. Identify the “off” switch.
It wasn’t so long ago that human beings could spend hours away from their phones without even thinking about it. We go out to dinner, go to the movies, spend hours shopping–and never worry about anyone trying to contact us. And the people we eat with, shop for, and watch movies get our undivided attention.
The people you are physically with, today, deserve equal consideration. So, turn off your phone and leave your tablet at home. Focus on the people you want to spend face-to-face with.
2. Practice delayed gratification
Many of us remember a time when you had to wait for your photos to be developed before you could share them with friends. Sometimes, this involves waiting a week or more. Modern society, however, has grown impatient. In fact, we regularly interrupt our most precious moments to send photos, texts and tweets to audiences we admire – preventing us from truly enjoying the moment and the people in it.
Instead, try to master the almost-disappearing art of delayed gratification and share your “news” after the event is over and everyone has gone their separate ways. And, learn to determine what events are too special to share.
3. Remember that nothing beats the real thing
There’s nothing wrong with sending someone a smile, a hug, or a virtual “lol.” But nothing beats a real smile, a warm hug, and the sound of a real laugh. If your friend needs cheering up, take her out to lunch–without your phone. If you haven’t seen someone in a while, take some time to reconnect. Directly.
Online chat serves its purpose, but nothing beats the ability to look someone in the eye and form a genuine connection.
4. Take your “game” offline
Online games are another fairly recent phenomenon. In the “olden days”, humans played games together. Living room shelves are filled with board games like Monopoly, Life, and Clue. And adults meet to play poker, euchre, or bridge. Families stay connected and friendships are made.
Instead of spending hours glued to your laptop, trying to get to the next level, defeating faceless players in Katmandu, or building a bigger virtual farm, invest that time in having fun with the people you love.
As Pastor Ed Young Jr. reminds us, “technology is a mirror that shows the world who we are.” So use your technology wisely and put your loved ones first. And stop hugging Roomba.
How has technology affected your human relationships?
Image courtesy of photos.com