Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Writing Lab: On Relationships and Technology

Prompt: "How has technology enhanced or detracted from your relationships?"

I've never been a member of the camp that thinks technology is nothing but negative when it comes to human relationships. All technology does is give people more options. What is done with those options depends entirely on the person. Some people do use it to tune out and disengage from the world around them. However, there are plenty of others that take advantage of the opportunity to be more connected, as opposed to less. I consider myself to be the latter.

I've always been a loner, as well as extremely introverted. While I have always enjoyed having at least a few close personal relationships with other people, I have never enjoyed what has to happen in order to obtain those relationships. I hate being in the physical presence of people I don't know and I loathe making small talk, attending social events, and pretty much everything else that people used to have to do if they wanted to make friends or find people to date. 

Unfortunately, that meant I mostly dated and socialized with people I was forced to be around for so long that eventually they just weren't strangers anymore. Meaning I'd almost always dated coworkers or friends of friends. In school my friends were always whatever kids I was forced to sit next to thanks to some seating chart. I never really went out of my way to seek out and befriend people I actually thought were interesting. This isn't exactly the best recipe for compatibility. Probably why I spent most of my life either keeping company with people I didn't truly like or avoiding social interaction altogether.


Modern technology actually changed all that. When I first got online in the early 2000's, I suddenly found myself immersed in a world that seemed custom-built for introverts like me and I took to it really naturally. Instead of having to make awkward verbal conversation, I could communicate in writing -- my very best thing. I found that I had plenty to say when it came to blogging and social networking. The type of people that also seemed to enjoy those activities seemed less shallow and more interested in deeper, more intellectual topics the way I was as well. Best of all, I was no longer geographically limited to who happened to exist within the limits of my own town. I could befriend people from all over the country and all around the world if I wished.

All things considered, I actually became more social thanks to the Internet. And the more convenient technology made socializing and communicating with others, the more I found I was willing to do it. I talk to people a lot more online than I ever have offline. I've cultivated actual lasting friendships. I found the confidence to start a business and make it successful as well -- something I'd never have been interested in doing offline. Even Seth was originally an online friend I knew through LiveJournal. He's also the first person I ever dated with whom I felt an actual connection. For the first time ever in my life, I chose the person I was with to every bit of the extent that they chose me.

My online life doesn't really interfere with my offline one because the two are so completely interconnected. I make my very real living on the Internet. Pretty much all of my important relationships these days, offline or otherwise, started out as online connections based on conversation and the exchange of ideas. When I'm spending time on Facebook, or Twitter, or Blogger, I'm not just sitting there silently, tuning Seth out. He is very likely right there participating in any conversations I might be having. We verbally discuss things going on online and know a lot of the same people. It's just another part of our lives together -- one more way we still connect to one another and to other people.