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Let's visit John and Jane again in their humble apartment. The two have been dating for four years and living together for one. They have known each other for a long amount of time, going to the same high school. Their relationship has been through its ups and downs and is currently in the slumps. They find that they're bored, not with each other, but with life in general. They come home and do the same things, watch the same movies, TV shows, and flit around a routine that was set months ago.
In the midst of this routine however, they are on their cell phones and laptops. They keep constant contact on social media sites with friends near and far even though they hardly ever come in face-to-face contact with them. Still though, these people that are not there in person are capable of claiming their attention.
Tonight in John and Jane's home...
John: "So they gave me a raise today, pretty excited."
Jane: *continues staring at phone screen and the newest stories posted, Lydia had tuna for dinner again.* "Yeah."
John: *changes television channel, Jane doesn't look up.* "Like I said I'm really excited, we should celebrate."
Jane: *avoids eye contact though now John is staring at her waiting for some sort of response* "Mhm. Sure, sure. Did you see Lydia had tuna again? Crazy right."
John: "I'm going to bed" *Leaves Jane to continue moving through her news-feed, it takes her twenty minutes to notice that he has walked away.*
Take away: John's emotions, as well as an occurrence in his life, were completely overlooked by Jane who was too intent on her social media. A real-life event spoken through word of mouth was ignored in exchange for words on a screen. An event that was directly related to Jane's life went unnoticed because she was more concerned, or appeared more concerned, with Lydia's dinner choices. Social media in this circumstance made John feel invalidated as well as unimportant to Jane. Jane in turn missed out on a chance to connect with John.
What should have happened...
John: "I want to talk to you about something." *turns off the television, sits beside Jane on the couch.*
Jane: *looks up from her phone* "About what?"
John: "Can you put your phone away?"
Jane: *closes phone apps and sets phone on coffee table.* "What's going on?"
John: *smiling, Jane notices his eyes are a little brighter, he's more alert than he normally is when he returns home from work.* "I got a promotion, and new hours, and a two dollar raise. We can start saving for that vacation!"
Jane: *hugs John* "Yay! I'm so proud of you! We should celebrate tomorrow! Dinner, on me."
John: *laughing* "Only if you keep your phone home."
Take Away: John feels validated when Jane focuses on him instead of her phone. She is able to communicate better as well, by not looking at her phone she is able to pick up on John's true emotions and participate in a conversation. However, the dinner could go in either direction. If Jane does in fact bring her phone John will think a) he is boring her, b) she doesn't care about his promotion, and/or c) she has found a better person to occupy her attention.
Social media has participated in creating tension and jealousy in modern relationships. It can be caused through things as simple as "why are you liking her picture" or "why is he commenting on your picture, tell him to stop." There is an array of private messengers that create opportunities for people to be in contact with individuals that are not their significant others, it opens up new alleys of wooing and infidelity. It is best to take a step back from these sites and focus on the people in your workforce, neighborhood, and home. These avenues of course are still there and jealousy may still be an issue, but the distraction of a phone or laptop will not be there.
Another scene with John and Jane...
On Tuesday night John and Jane went to their favorite restaurant. Candles were lit in a slightly dim room and waitresses and waiters walked around clad in black with white notepads sticking out of pockets. Conversations filled the air with a buzz, but their table was silent. Each sat at the table looking over their phone, John messaging a friend, Jane reading a few things on Facebook.
Jane's phone died, so she sat and stared at John, sighing and waiting for him to communicate or at least look up. She noticed him laughing and then saw his expression change to one of slight annoyance. She hadn't noticed him messaging someone before, but now could hear the distinct "ping" of a message arriving.
Jane: "Who are you talking to?"
John: "Oh no one."
Jane: *raising an eyebrow, confused* "It's obviously someone, I can hear it."
John: "We're in the middle of a restaurant, don't make a scene. It's no one."
Jane: "Why can't you talk to me? Am I boring?"
John: "You were on your phone too."
Take Away: Although they were on a date Jane and John were not focusing on each other, but were instead finding ways to bond through social media with people in different places. When John did not pay attention to Jane she felt unwanted and boring. When she pointed this out John became defensive because she had been on her phone. Tension was created through the use of instant messenger and the dinner was ruined.
I have been to countless restaurants where one member of the couple is on their phone and the other sits staring out a window or picking at their nails. It's a truly sad thing to watch and you wonder "were they in love before?" or find yourself thinking, "she's clearly more into him than he is into her."
So in short, take a minute from the phones, the laptops, and all other forms of social media. Spend time with one another, just you and your significant other in your home, a car, a restaurant... anywhere. Take a moment to get to know each other again outside of the world of digital media. Although we are connected with the world through the click of a few buttons we are not always connected with the people sitting right beside us (or across from us). We become so absorbed in our own life that we forget the people that make that life possible (our real life friends, loves, and family).