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Sleeping with the Enemy? The new definition of digital divide
Intimacy, or as Iyanla Vantzant refers to it “In-To-Me-See”, requires trust, respect, communication, and a resolve to work together. Each of these components requires the willingness to be present. Easy access to social media via cell phones, tablets and laptops has made it more challenging than ever to be present for offline our relationships.
In the beginning of my relationship, I recall that most of the arguments that occurred early in our relationship were directly related to technology use or overuse. We would argue over cell phone usage while we were out to dinner, checking emails obsessively, playing time stealing game apps like Temple Run, Words with Friends and Candy Crush and the greatest offense which we refer to as, sleeping with the enemy, taking your cell phone to bed.
Internet and Social Media overuse/abuse has the potential of diminishing the value of the interpersonal relationships that we establish and maintain with others. Dependency on our cell phones and other technological devices and social media outlets cause us to be inattentive to the needs of our loved ones, therefore possibly leading to them feeling unwanted, unsupported, and not affirmed.
As 80’s babies, my husband and I can recall the last days of under limited interaction—meaning we had to call people to see how they were. Calling our friends and family meant we had to hear their voice so that we did not just have to take their word for it that everything was all right but we could hear or not hear it in their voices. If someone did not answer the phone we would go over his or her house to make sure all was well.
We also recalled a time where emails didn’t exist and at least not among the working class if you had to do research you went to a library, if you wanted a job you had to go from place to place asking of you could talk to someone or get an application. Not everyone had a computer and even if you did, not everyone knew how to work it. Today I can apply for 100 jobs online in a day and still have time to check my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Today we have the capacity to do so much more then we could a few generations ago which is great, right? In some respects, yes, however have we become addicted to filling our time with non-relationship building interactions that keep us from achieving quality levels of intimacy with the people in our lives.
We acknowledge that use of technology has at times created an interruption in our bonding and growth as a couple. Many of the social media outlets are highly individual and ego-driven and offer very little supports for couples. Being engrossed in technology and social media has left both of us at one time or another feeling unsupported in the relationship.
In a study conducted over a 10-year period by the University of Michigan (http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201304/risk-depression-influenced-quality-relationships-u-m) found that depression among spouses was linked to being in a relationship with an unsupportive partner. Wellness mentally or otherwise is a social phenomenon meaning one’s environment, relationship based experiences and quality of experience can determine how much wellness a person has access to.
It is very easy for technology to turn us into partners who neglect and disengage. We connect to the world but disconnect from our lives. The goal in wellness is always hemostasis other wise known as balance. It is unlikely for us to change the direction technology is going in, however, we do have control over our individual levels of participation and how we let it impact our personal relationships. Be present in our relationships without distraction is imperative to improving the quality of experiences with one another and ourselves. We must learn to disconnect from the outside world and plug in to our own lives.
For more information on navigating the digital divide or how to create a plan for your digital detox, join us live Sunday July 6th, 2014 6th at 1pm Truth Talk Feat Intimacy and Colour blog-talk radio or download the episode for anytime usage as we support your wellness online and in life.http://www.blogtalkradio.com/intimacyandcolour/2014/07/06/unplugged-digital-detox#ixzz36KuiyDLu