Anyone who knows a young adult realizes that technology is an important aspect of his or her life. Recently I had a humorous discussion on Facebook with a friend of mine. He had recently updated his “relationship status” and had a new girlfriend. But he had not yet listed the young lady’s name on Facebook because she had not yet “accepted” the relationship change on Facebook. I was giving him a friendly ribbing about how he could not even get a girlfriend without Facebook. He thought it was funny, but agreed that technology had definitely changed how personal relationships are created, perceived, and shared with others.
But it is not just young adults’ relationships that have been changed by technology. I must admit that my wife and I often talk online throughout the day, or send each other text messages, or use some other means of technological communication. It keeps us connected to each other during the day though we are physically on opposite ends of the city in which we live.
I also communicate to my three children through technology. The other day my wife had prepared a fine dinner and when it came time to call them for dinner, I sent them a text message even though they were just in the other room. Wow, technology really has become a part of our lives!
But there is an inherent difficulty in using too much technology in our personal relationships. We can use technology as a way to isolate ourselves from actual interaction from others. We must remember that people are designed by the Creator to need each other, especially in times of difficulty or stress. There are times when we need a hug, and a cute symbol for a hug in a text message just will not do. There is something about a firm handshake, or a pat on the shoulder, that still means something important to us that just cannot be communicated through technology.
There is also the issue of honesty. When people only connect through technology, it is easy to bend the truth and get away with it. After all, if we have never met the person we are talking to, we do not know if what is said is actually true. Even if we have met the person, but only on rare occasions, there is much less accountability in technology than there would be in a face to face relationship. People say and do things on a computer screen or cell phone that they would not do in person. This is another reason why we need to actually spend time with each other in face to face encounters. It keeps us honest and more authentic in what we say and do.
Technology is a great tool. It can be used to help us communicate with others. It can give us a sense of safety when we need to discuss complicated issues. But no amount of technology can replace the value of human interaction. We must learn to use technology as an effective tool, but resist the temptation to use it in unhealthy ways.