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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Relationship through Technology - Disconnecting

As much at technology allows us to connect with each other, it also provides a barrier that can disconnect us. It's not uncommon to see a group of teens sitting silently and all texting each other. It's easy to find the scene of two people sitting at a coffee shop together and both engrossed in their own computer, rather than talking to each other. Even in the online world, technology can provide a boundary to real relationship and connection.

You may see someone every day on Facebook, but just because you read the status they put up, doesn't mean you really know what's going on in their lives. You may have an idea about the activities that they are participating in, but it's not easy to get to know people for who they really are through online communication. The internet provides one dimension of communication -- the words. All of the tone and body language are removed from the equation and only the words are left. Typically what happens then is that you will insert the tone you expect to hear based on the words you see. If you expect someone is complaining or being sarcastic, you'll mentally add that tone to the words online. So what you end up with is a connection to the person you imagine is writing the words, rather than the actual person. It's not until you spend a significant amount of time with people in real life that you have a firm picture of who they are that can inform your image of them online.

Technology has myriad ways of disconnecting us, but that doesn't mean that it's bad. It just needs to be used with caution. Fire can burn down your house and kill your family, but it can also heat your home and cook the food to feed your family. Don't blame the tool, just learn to use it well and appropriately for building relationships.

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