A twitter user commented today: “that guy hid behind his phone to stand up to his girlfriend. Technology is effecting the way relationships work”.
This is not the only reminder of how electronics are altering relationships. When observing most couples these days interact at a restaurant, you will be shocked to see that most do not talk anymore. Instead, they spend their time hidden behind their phone screen, playing Candy Crush or checking their Facebook. One couple that I observed recently texted a conversation to each other over dinner, their only words spoken aloud were an occasional “That’s interesting” or “I didn’t know that”. Texting appears to mark relationship milestones these days. A boy and girl begin talking using text. They use it continually over the course of their relationship to communicate. It ends their relationship.
But is it really that appalling that relationships flounder when they’re built on the foundation of texting? Author Dave Singleton explains that “texts […]are devoid of irony, tone, humor or any of the key essential ingredients of communication.” It is no wonder that couples rely on text messaging as an easy means of breaking up their relationships. Without any emotional strings, they can painlessly cut ties without seeing how much they hurt the other person.
The initial concept behind texting was to allow users instant access to sending and receiving brief messages. It was not designed to replace interpersonal communication. One study reports that about 82% of young adults text their significant other multiple times each day, but still struggle with their relationship. It goes on to report that men especially increase their amount of text messaging when they are attempting to put space between themselves and their partner. In most cases, this usually occurs right before a breakup.
Of course, texting is not a bad thing, especially in a relationship. In the same study, women increased their text messaging when they were trying to improve the quality of their relationship. Like anything else, the key is balance. While texting is not bad, it still cannot replace valuable face-to-face interaction.