“Have you ever read something that killed you inside? Like a text message or someone’s status. Everything was going fine until you accidentally came across something you didn’t want to read. Or found out something you were better off not knowing. It’s almost as if it were posted just to purposely hurt you.” -Unknown
We all do it. (Even grandma does it now). Communicating via Facebook, texting, and instant messages is and can be convenient. Technology offers us quick (like gangbusters) ways to make plans or ask your partner to pick up milk at the grocery store.
“But according to research, this convenience may come at the cost of intimacy and connection in your relationship. That’s because reserchers from Oxford University have found couples who keep in touch too much via technology tend to have less satisfying marriages.” (Psych Central)
“The study surveyed social media used by 3,500 couples, including Facebook, emails, texts, tweets and instant messages. Couples who used five or more electronic channels of communication reported an average of 14 percent less relationship satisfaction than couples who were less electronically connected.” You would think connecting more frequently— despite how this is achieved — would create even more closeness, right? Overall, any connection with a loved one beats no connection at all; for examples, long distant relationships, work trips and traveling. However, this is true only if the connection is neutral or positive.
Sending a text, “See you later” is neutral. On the other hand, sending a text that says, “I’m so excited to see you!” is a more positive bid and fosters (some) loving feelings. Exchanging naughty texts back and forth over the course of the day gets you hot and ready for each other, baby! However, there are several reasons why communicating through technology is poisonous to your life, relationships, and overall intimacy.
Anger can be too easily impulsively put into a text. Too many folks type off a nasty comment out of frustration or anger in response to something that annoyed them or hurt their feelings. We end up saying nasty, hurtful things we don’t mean, and react out of emotion. If these folks hit send before they calm down, they might spearhead the start of a long, troubled road littered with these passive aggressive ‘dirty fighting’ rocks. This can later create contempt or resentment.
Social Media ‘Addiction’
Social media at some point for many, starts to become this platform where we seek reassurance and approval from others in the form of likes, comments and follows. This can become addicting, and cut into the quality of your present moment / life.
We then may post things just for this very purpose, and become upset, sad, or disappointed when we don’t receive these things in the quantity we feel like we should. Our self worth gets too wrapped up in our image, photos, profiles, how we look, etc. We then make it mean something negative or bad about us.
Texts can only convey so much through words without “prosody” or the sound of voices. 93% of Communication is nonverbal. This means that misinterpretations of texts can run rampant. Dr. Mehrabian devised a formula that says the interpretation of a message is 7% verbal, 38% vocal, and 55% visual. The text that says “See you later” may be viewed as completely Ok and neutral by one person, and insensitive insensitive to another.
“In this regard, at least phone calls (which add voice to the bandwidth) are less likely to create upsets from misperceptions. At the same time, talking enhances connection power when you are physically together, because you can see each other, hear each other and touch each other. And that can never be conveyed over technology of any kind.” (Psych Central)
You’re always going to assume the Worst.
Let’s say you happen to see a photo posted on your partner’s profile. Or see a text message you weren’t meant to see on their phone. What are you going to think or assume?
Ignoring the clear boundary violations of looking at our partner’s phone or Facebook account (whole other conversation); we are always going to find something we don’t like. It’s inevitable. Something we are going to judge, misinterpret, and very possibly make assumptions about. And we are usually going to assume the worst about the intentions and what’s really going on. This is a classic type of distorted (negative) thinking style, where we magnify the negative and discount anything neutral or positive, and ultimately catastrophes. This is especially so if we are riddled with insecurities about ourselves and/or our relationship. At that point, it may be safe to say you are just looking for a reason to pick a fight or project your insecurities onto your partner.
The type of comparison that social media beckons is toxic to our soul. We start to play the comparison game, and the comparison gremlin comes out to play! Think about the picture or the text message you may have accidentally (or purposely) seen on your partners phone (from #4 above). It is very possible that you may start to compare yourself to the person who sent it, at that point.
Yet, we do it all the time. We compare ourselves to our friends, family members, co-workers, your partner’s ex, etc. What we often forget is how rotten and depressed this can make us feel to be compared to others. Everyone is so different. Everyone has been through their own battles, traumas, struggles, and deals with their own problems and insecurities. Everyone is on their own unique journey and phase of their life. You can’t compare your chapter 26 to someone else’s chapter 42.
Yet that’s what we do. Everyone tends to portray their best selves on social media, too, which creates an illusion around them and their life. Remind yourself of what you are grateful for, and what you do have, instead of what you don’t.
It takes you away from your Present Moment.
Especially if you are with others, it can be a distraction, or just outright rude. It takes you out of the present moment, and helps to detach you from reality, yourself, your emotions, and your life. This dampens intimacy and connection with those you are around, and it can be a nasty habit, and dangerous even. Just look at all the wrecks that happen from Texting and Driving. You are unaware and zoned out when you are absorbed in your phone.
So what should you do?
Practice slowing down, grounding yourself, and taking a deep breath before responding.
Make a ritual of unplugging from your phone and social media. Don’t pick t up for every text, Facebook message, and notification (especially if you are with your loved ones, or other important people. Turn your phone off at night or after a certain time put it away in a drawer, and reconnect to your reality and present moment. A regular practice of Mindfulness, Meditation and Deep Breathing are other great tools to help anchor you to the present.
Do you struggle with communication via technology? What social media conflict have you faced with your past or current partners? How do you deal with it? What do you think about these tech issues? Do you agree or disagree? What else would you add? Let me know in the comments below.