Love in the Time of Caller ID
When we’re always in touch but never in reach, can true love blossom?
Not Tonight, Honey
Technology makes our lives easier, agrees O'Neill from the Menninger Clinic.
But he also worries that loss of face-to-face and hand-to-hand contact can
drain the essential human element from day-to-day dealings.
"I think when you start talking about text messaging, emailing,
answering the phone, spending the time online, then I'm starting to think about
how does that interfere with some of the basic human connections? Being able to
look somebody in the eye and talk about love, and fear, and anger -- all the
wonderful things but also all the necessary things that can be
O'Neill says that for many people workplace technology has spread like a
fungus, extending its reaches into the home and other once-private spaces.
"When someone gets up in the morning, they may check their email first
thing in the morning, and then they jump in their car and talk on their cell
phone or check messages all the way to work," he says. "Then they work
all day and on the way home they're talking on the phone and checking messages
again. So there really isn't that time anymore to unwind and prepare, and
whether they're workaholics or not, more and more people are at risk for just
O'Neill cites the following warning signs that technology may be coming
between you and your loved ones:
- You spend more time on email or returning phone calls than in activities
with family of friends.
- You're late for appointments or engagements because you got caught up in
texting, surfing, or talking on the phone.
- You text, send email, or leave voicemail when face-to face interactions
would be more appropriate.
- Your family and friends ask you to stop, but you can't, and you get
irritated when others complain about your use of technology.
Often when we're absorbed in electronic communications we may be oblivious
to how our actions hurt others, O'Neill says. He gives the hypothetical example
of a father-and-son outing at a ball game. The father, talking on his cell
phone, makes a distracted grab at a foul ball, but misses and goes on with the
call as if nothing had happened.