Opinion: The new third wheel: the use of technology in relationships

Dylan Webb is a teaching English as a second language major. Contact him at [email protected].

Dylan Webb

In the 21st century, the effects of technology have leeched themselves into every aspect of our lives, including our relationships. It’s better to spend 15 minutes giving your full attention to your partner over a phone call to get everything out. Partners also you the phone to make plans, have a few laughs and even smooth out misunderstandings.

A main factor burning out hearts in our modern text-based culture is ghosting. “Ghosting” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “anecdotally pervasive act where one dater ends a relationship by simply disappearing.” Simply, one party in the relationship chooses not to respond despite attempts by the other party to reconnect. There are times in the relationship where the wiser person has to call out the other’s faults and come to an agreement as a couple if it will work out. You try to communicate, but after a few tries, you get no response. You want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Ghosting leaves the ignored feeling as if there was still a chance. That closure of the relationship is never achieved. It shows weakness and the inability to communicate with one another. Essentially, except in cases where someone is dealing with an abusive partner, it’s the coward’s way out. As one student said, “People don’t hold themselves accountable anymore because they can hide behind their phones.”

Furthermore, there is “phubbing” a term made recently by Alex Haigh, a 23-year-old Melbourne resident, phubbing stands for “phone snubbing” and describes “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention. “I’ve seen too many couples walking through the student center not looking lovingly in each other’s eyes, but absentmindedly staring at their phones. There are times in your life where you have to be present in the moment, the here-and-now, while phones take us out of reality. A recent survey done by the Hankamer School of Business of Baylor University found, “Nearly half of the respondents in the survey said they were phubbing by their partner, with 22.6 percent saying it causes conflict and 36.6 percent reporting they felt depressed at least some of the time.”

The effects of phubbing are not just a small, but are leaving a major effect on our generation. Slowly in our relationships, we spend more time staring at our phones than at each other. Since, as humans, we can truly only focus on one thing at a time. So you have to ask yourself: what is more important to focus on in intimate time together, my partner or a computer screen?

With our overuse of technology, we can no longer have the meaningful conversations that create the basis of a collegiate philosophical discussion, or the lively conversation that builds and sustains relationships. With this amount of technology, we’re not able to think critically, nor even learn how to have fun with our partner without putting on a viral video. So it’s time to put down our phone shield and be vulnerable. We should look into each other’s eyes and say what we really mean. We simply need to be willing to create the emotional intimacy that makes “I love you” really mean “I love you”, not “I’ll ghost you in a week.”

Dylan Webb is a opinion columnist for the Kent Stater. For more information contact him at [email protected].