Or more accurately:
Are you allowing your cellphone usage to seriously detract from your quality of life?
Consider the following scenarios:
- A couple are sitting in a dimly lit, cosy restaurant. Everything is perfect and the stage is set for a wonderful, intimate night out. However, both partners are texting furiously in their cellphones, oblivious to their surroundings and to each other.
- A young couple are sitting under umbrellas at the pool of an upmarket hotel. It is a perfect day, the sun is shining and their two young children are playing in the paddling pool a few metres away. Quality family time? Well no, because both are fixated on their respective small screens.
- A man and his dog are having some bonding time at the beach. The sand is white, the sun is warm, the sea looks inviting but what is happening? The man is lost to the moment and his dog is sitting in front of him looking dejected. What a shame!
So why do we do this to ourselves and what is the impact on our lives as a result?
We tend to feel that we are being so productive and are being so well connected by being on facebook etc, yet what is often happening is that we are totally missing out on the special moments in our real lives!
Time and again, in my psychology practice, I am told of how some aspect of cellphone usage has led to something bad happening, either for an individual or for a couple in their relationship.
What are the top contenders?
- Not being able to "switch-off" in their down-time, causing frustration, resentment and ultimately in burnout.
- Often partners find out that their spouse is cheating by finding text messages on his/her cellphone. Cellphones make it much easier to indulge in secret relationships.
- It is easy to get the wrong end of the stick. SMS messages are easy to misconstrue. I suggest to my clients that they restrict SMs communication sharing of information. Anything sensitive or potentially emotion-provoking should be discussed face-to-face to prevent misunderstandings from occuring.
- Unrealistic expectations are built up. When you know your partner has a cellphone on their person at all times it is easy to assume that they will be able to respond to a message from you immediately at any time of the day or night. So when they don't (or can't), the s…t can easily, and habitually, hit the fan!
So what can be done to avoid all the technologically-induced minefields of our own making?
First, I suggest becoming mindful of your own cellphone behaviour. Make changes where necessary.
If you believe that your partner has a problem in restricting their cellphone usage, bring up the topic diplomatically. Perhaps talk about the upsides of being less cellphone-centred!
If you cannot seem to find the right balance between the virtual and the real or if you are actually obsessed by all things web-based and that life is passing you by (or your partner believes this about you), maybe it is time to get some help!