Distance and smart phones

Smart phones and social media close distance. Sometimes this is a good thing. I enjoyed talking to relatives scattered across the world on Christmas.

But there are some other points worth considering.

In the past, you couldn’t just get in touch with nearly anyone at any time. If something happened, say a rough meeting at work or some other regular bad day type stuff, you couldn’t just text a friend or relative about it in real time. You waited until the end of the day.

The dust settled. You collected yourself. Then you talked.

I see smart phones robbing us of this sort of emotional self regulation that was standard human behavior until really just a few years ago.

I find that I need time to process things. Time for things to poke around in the back of my head. A good night’s sleep. Time to actively think about them.

But because of our always-on culture, it’s hard to get that time. You’re excepted to react instantly. If you don’t that means you’re closed off, suppressing things.

Also, smart phones have a way of artificially freezing relationships in the past. After you’ve moved across the world, you shouldn’t have the same relationship you did with people you once saw every day. Keeping these relationships going at the same intensity takes away your ability to form new relationships in your new reality.

That’s not to say we should burn all bridges with the past, but that it’s ok that my best friend from first grade is now someone I email every few months or so. Let things change, at their own pace.

When I left home at the age of 20, moving to Asia, then Europe, I didn’t really have much contact with people back home. Every few days I’d pop into an internet cafe and fire off an email or two. That’s it.

Now I see expats living vicariously in their old homes and never really fitting in with their new ones. Connectivity isn’t always good. Like any tool, it needs discernment.