[media-credit name=”McClatchy Tribune” align=”alignnone” width=”300″][/media-credit]Modern technologies can have both positive and negative effects on relationships according to many people. Samantha Allen, contributing editor of eHow Demand Media, pointed out, “Email, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, text messaging and instant messaging have changed the way people communicate with one another. They allow faster and more efficient communication and can help build relationships. However, modern technologies can also have negative effects, such as limiting personal contact and straining relationships.”
Technology promotes connection and disconnection according to relationship counselor Clinton Power.
“With all the advances in technology to help us communicate faster, cheaper and clearer, many people are more lonely and isolated than ever before,” he said. “Technology is great to facilitate connection, but then take it into the real world, where something of substance can be developed.”
The position taken by Weber State University graduate student Heidi Shafer is, “Facebook is a way for people to hide behind their computers without having to really make the effort to connect. People will post things on Facebook that they would never tell anyone in person. It doesn’t help in forming real bonds or friendships with people, so there is still emptiness.”
Technology has provided a way for people to make confrontation easier, which undoubtedly impacts relationships. “People are often uncomfortable with face-to-face confrontation, so it’s easy to understand why they’d choose to use the Internet” wrote Alex Lickerman, author of Happiness in this World: Reflections of a Buddhist Physician.
“It blocks us from registering the negative emotional responses such messages engender, which provides us the illusion we’re not really doing harm,” Lickerman said. “Electronic messages are not transmitted with as much empathy, and we often find ourselves sending a different message than we intended and breeding more confusion than we realize.”
WSU English professor Brooke Kelly said she educates her students on the positive and negative aspects of technology and the impact it can have on relationships.
“Technology promotes the ability to reach out and stay connected to individuals and makes it relatively easy to do so,” she said. “However, I also think technology affects relationships negatively. Oftentimes, communication through technology is disguised and hidden, which can complicate and damage relationships.”
Kelly said technology can make negative conversations easier.
“I am a firm believer that sometimes things are better left unsaid, and technology can make individuals more assertive and comfortable in expressing negative emotion than face-to-face communication,” she said.
According to Allen, modern technologies allow couples to be in contact with each other more than ever before.
“With the increasing use of cell phones and email, people often expect an instant reply to communication,” Allen said. “Information that was once private – such as relationship conflicts – is now part of the public sphere.”
WSU graduate Brett Bertagnolli explained that technology has impeded communication because people yearn for personal attention, and when that element is missing, it can affect the relationship.
“People feel that the line of communication is easier to hide behind, and intimacy can be broken down where there is a lack of person attention and face-to-face communication,” he said.