I’m not going to pretend I’m better than anyone else. I have an iPhone, and Siri is my constant companion. My husband and I are constantly asking each other, “Are you looking something up, or are you scrolling the feed?”
Sometimes I am looking something up. More often, I nervously shut it down like a teenager caught doing something online they shouldn’t.
We’ve talked about how our phone’s, tablets, and laptops come between us. Scrolling the feed can feel so innocent. What difference does it make if we are looking at a device when we aren’t talking or doing something else?
And yet, it does make a difference. For some very critical reasons.
1. Sharing silence is intimate. You often hear people talk about finding someone they can be silent with. It’s precious. It’s comfortable. It’s rare. Being able to share uniquely quiet moments makes you more aware of the presence of another person. Simple things show up more brightly, like hand-holding or cuddling when they are wrapped in a soft silence.
When you instructively reach for your phone or your laptop at the first hint of a silent shared moment, you cut yourself off from being present in an intimate space by distracting yourself with the outside world. Silence and boredom are ok. In fact, they are good things, a couple should be able to share.
When the reward centers in the brain light up with instant digital entertainment, you’re training yourself not to be present, with yourself, or a loved one.
2. Shared experience is a big thing. When one of you is watching a TV show and the other person sitting right there is on Facebook, you are sharing space, but you are not sharing the experience. That is not actually being together.
Shared experiences, no matter how insignificant they create a common frame of reference. Those kinds of experiences form a bond between people. It gives you something to talk about or laugh about together.
Digital distraction causes a severing of experiences going on in the same space and time. It’s very isolating. It creates a sense of being lonely with someone, and that’s the worst kind of loneliness.
3. Priorities and attention matter a lot. If you’re wondering what your priority is, it’s the thing that gets most of your attention. When you are sharing space with someone, but you don’t have their attention, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t that interesting or significant.
The digital universe is not that complicated. It can be a very real place to slide into to avoid intimacy and the messiness of being with a real human with real emotions. However, it’s an emotionally lazy escape where over time you get less and less adept at being fluid and present emotionally.
Emotional presence is a skill. It requires some muscle building. When we spend a lot of time digitally disappearing, our skills decline. We quit noticing the nuances of body language and facial expressions because we aren’t paying attention. About 90% of communication at any given time is non-verbal. When your face is staring at a screen, even if you’re talking, you’re missing more than you’re picking up.
I’m not going to tell you what your best strategy for dealing with digital distraction should be. Everyone is different. We all have various levels of demand when it comes to how tied we have to be to our phones and devices. However, I will say if you don’t find a way to minimize the intrusive nature of digital distraction you are cheating partner of your presence, and over time, your relationship will pay a price.
Huna Philosophy says, “Energy goes where attention flows.” Relationships shouldn’t be hard work, but they do require a lot of energy, and that is always more important than scrolling the feed.
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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.
Posted on 02/02/2016 at 12:00:00 AM