Look around you. You see it everywhere. The phone. The earphones. The tablet. And the distracted patrons who don’t even take a second to look up. There are even businesses that are posting signs stating cell phone use is prohibiting in the checkout line or in the doctor’s office. We are having to specifically be asked to interact with those in front of us. The never ending technology in our world has done many great things for us, but there are some negative impacts on your social life.
You may have thousands of friends or followers on your “social” media, but are those relationships impacting the ones around you? Do you unplug for those who truly mean something to you? The ones who are in front of you?
When sitting at a restaurant watching others, I did not see a single table where a cell phone wasn’t used. In many cases, couples were sitting right across from each other, both looking at their phone and not speaking to one another, not even putting it down to eat. They are being social but not with the people they are with. The danger here is that we start losing touch with the people in our lives because we simply don’t get off the phone or take off headphones to talk and give the other person our time and attention. As a marriage and family therapist, I know many couples in trouble usually would be better off if they just paid a little more attention to the other person.
Now let me state that I do feel that technology and social media all have an important place in our lives and world. I am not saying it should be banned or not used. As a Chicago counselor, my concern is finding that balance. People are starting to feel isolated from one another because of a false sense of connection. Emails, mobile phones and social media are valuable methods of communicating information and are a great business too, but people are still very social creatures and need to interact with a live people who can read emotion in their face, touch each other’s hand, give a consoling hug, or a celebratory high five. We need real interaction and personal relationships, and more important, we need to build and sustain the existing ones in our lives. If you want someone to know they are important to you, you must show them. You must give them attention, and devote quality time to being with them (not your phone).
Chicago and the surrounding area (Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Barrington, Hinsdale, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Park Ridge, and Wilmette) is full of social places. So as we are approaching the end of our summer, let’s all make a conscious effort to relate deeper and make time for the people in front of us. Talk to a stranger. Make a new friend. Break out of your shell and see what it does for you.