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In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle writes that “These days, whether you are online or not, it is easy for people to end up unsure if they are closer together or further apart.” Indeed, it’s interesting to think that the more “connected” we all get with each other by way of modern technology, the more disconnected we get in actual reality. Nowadays, many human beings always have their cell phone in hand or on their person, and some people even hold on to their smartphones while they sleep. This may seem humorous at first, but when someone begins to think of their smartphone as a partner or a pet, it can quickly begin to interfere with or destroy relationships with real human beings.
Although many people are capable of managing an intimate relationship with their smartphone and their partner, approximately just as many people lose a genuine feeling of connection with their romantic partner because they are always in such close contact with their phone. Instead of two partners thinking the same things and knowing what the other person is about to say before they say it, these disconnected scenarios can result in neither partner even being able to keep up with the subject, topic, or conversation at hand. Of course, there are usually a multitude of different reasons why couples decide to break-up, but if these breakups were analyzed closely, how many of them would include partial disconnection by way of a smartphone as one of the several reasons for parting ways?
What’s more, it’s important for people who are intimately attached to their phones to consider why it is that they enjoy devoting more attention, time, and energy to their device than they do to their partners. In fact, it may very well turn out that smartphones are not preventing good communication from occurring, but are instead simply changing the way communication is occurring. If you add up all those calls, texts, emails, and they are like, they will surely amount to a considerable amount of correspondence. However, when someone “phubs”—which means they use their phone while their partner is communicating with them—the time and disconnection that occurs before the person reconnects to their partner seems to eliminate any deep emotional connections from forming and holding.
Moreover, when communication occurs in this way, there tends to be less of an exchange of facial gestures, eye contact, tone, body language, and human emotion in general. This can make communicating laborious, obligatory, and generic, which needless to say does not often result in stimulating and meaningful conversations. This is why it is imperative for all human beings to be extremely conscious of how they utilize their devices, and especially of how they utilize their devices around their partners and when interacting with their partners. When couples do vow to use their smartphones less and communicate with each other more effectively, one or both of them might actually begin to forget that their phone exists for hours or even days.
If you find imagining that to be alarming—you may need to keep your phone in its holster a little more often.