CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF TOWNSVILLE
Sometimes technology is more of a hindrance than a help when we are trying to sort through relationship issues.
Anyone who knows me well understands that I am not a great fan of technology. I can admit that technology certainly has an important place in the world and there is no point fighting against it as it is here to stay. However, I do believe it is a communication tool that has infiltrated our lives with very few boundaries and inadequate ‘how to’ manuals when it comes to communication through these mediums.
Over the past few years I have seen technology and in particular, social media, have an interesting effect on the way in which relationship issues are handled. This is usually most evident in quite new relationships that are just developing. In times past, when an issue or some friction may have arisen in a new relationship, the couple could go home from a date and have some quiet time and space to gain some clarity on the situation and issues. Now the story is a little bit different.
As friends are often aware of the situation, it can spark a flurry of activity on social media. The person’s friends are just trying to be supportive and offer ideas or solutions but due to the instant nature of social media, the person can actually end up being bombarded by messages and posts that completely overwhelm them and heighten their stress about the situation. This in turn can then blur the issues and the person will find it difficult to come to a solution due to the influx of ideas and opinions from well meaning friends.
This influx of ideas and opinions over social media also occurs when a person or group may be experiencing some friendship issues. Well meaning support can quickly turn the small issue into an enormous hurdle in the relationship or friendship due to the quick influx of many, many messages from other people. For example, there may be a situation that has arisen in a relationship or with a friend that requires some type of resolution. Very well meaning friends will send their love and support to the person through social media messages that offer their opinions, thoughts, other information and ideas. So, imagine if you have five friends – I am being very conservative – who in one night send you 10 different comments about your situation. Again, I am being rather conservative! That is 50 different thoughts and opinions that are influencing your thoughts and opinions on the situation. It is easy to see how these comments can add to the confusion of the situation rather than assist with it.
What often makes the situation a little more difficult too, is that we are not aware that the ideas and comments we are receiving through social media are adding to the confusion. We really do assume that this support is helping us even though we can feel our stress levels skyrocketing and the situation does not seem any closer to a resolution.
When we are facing a difficult relationship or friendship issue, it is always helpful to have the support of those closest to us. Most of the time their thoughts and ideas are of great benefit to us and they help us navigate the situation. We just need to keep in mind that sometimes we also need some space and quietness to think through the issue at hand and find a resolution. We need to be able to know when discussing issues over social media are helpful and when a chat with a friend over coffee is much more beneficial.