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We’ve Married Technology and Divorced Each Other

When our devices are the center of our world, the people in our lives can’t be

Photo: rawpixel on Unsplash

It is early in the morning and my alarm has just gone off. I roll over, my eyes not yet open, and reach for my devoted companion—my iPhone. It has laid quietly beside me on the nightstand all night. I am so thankful for its silence, having just ended a relationship with someone whose snores kept me up all night. With my phone, I turn on “do not disturb” and, bless its sweet battery, it doesn’t.

I stumble downstairs with my dogs in tow to let them out to do their morning business. “Alexa, turn lights on,” I say. She does.

I stand at the counter where my iPad sits charging, and I visit with friends on Facebook, check my Medium stats, and peek at posts on Instagram and Twitter. I do all this while my Ninja brews my coffee, which was set on delay the night before.

I used to live with a guy who made my coffee for me in the morning, and I loved him for it. He also would send me songs he thought I would like or that made him think of me. Now my Apple Music subscription or Pandora compiles playlists for me.

To figure out what to have for dinner, I jump on my phone to look up a nearby restaurant or a recipe for the ingredients I have on hand. If I need inspiration for my writing, I pop on Pinterest and browse funny and inspirational memes as my muse. When I need entertainment, Netflix knows what I have watched before and what I should watch next.

And so it goes, day after day, my dance with my devices meeting all my demands on a whim.

Having just ended a 10-year relationship, I am often asked, Are you lonely?”

My answer? “No.”

And the reason, I suspect, is that I am in a very committed relationship with technology that seems to have left me needing people less. But I don’t know if that’s for the best.

Instead of our devices being a distraction from our relationships, our relationships seem to be a distraction from our devices.

For me, relationships today leave something to be desired. It doesn’t help that I am in the dwindling demographic that actually remembers relationships before Apple. I remember having dinner with someone and they had my undivided attention—and I had theirs. I remember curling up on the couch to watch a movie that we had gone to a store to pick out together, and discussing it with one another after it’s over.

Those days weren’t that long ago. But now, instead of our devices being a distraction from our relationships, our relationships seem to be a distraction from our devices. Is it the devices making us turn away from people, or are the devices exposing needs the people in our lives aren’t meeting?

The truth is, I was lonely in my recently ended relationship. For us, technology was largely to blame. I had grown tired of competing with a screen to get any face time with my partner. The more gadgets we introduced into our lives, the weaker our connection to each other became.

The more technology was making my life easier, the more resentful I became of a partner who wasn’t matching that effort. The more my needs were being met elsewhere, the less I was willing to tolerate someone who wasn’t meeting them. With technology offering me the ability to meet all my own needs at my fingertips, did I really need someone to hold hands with anymore? Sadly, it seemed that maybe I didn’t.

It doesn’t help that technology continually courts us with the newest features and entices us into upgrading every couple years. Maybe it isn’t all that surprising that we start feeling that way about our relationships too. If we updated our efforts in our relationships as often as we update our devices, maybe we would have a better shot at making them work.

Instead, it is starting to feel like we have been programmed to continually wonder if there is something better out there for us. That’s a pretty dangerous mentality to have if we want to sustain a long-term relationship with someone. When the ability to just swipe right is forever present, it seems we are more likely to do so.

Even a hard reboot couldn’t fix my relationship issues in the end, and so here I sit, single with Siri. For now, I am okay with that. In time, I might be interested in upgrading, but only if I can find someone compatible with the latest version of me.

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