I watched the movie Alice, Darling, which made me think of abusive relationships. I will not describe the film here, but you should watch it, it’s good.
One of the thoughts that came to mind after the movie is how aside from people, other things are abusive to relationships. For example, bad habits, social media, and video streaming are vicious when not measured and restricted – just like abusive people.
Our bad habits allow these abusive relationships with technology to flourish, but don’t blame yourself yet. Modern apps and digital ecosystems are specifically designed for us to use them constantly, to make us feel part of a community, all while making us ignore the natural world and people around us. By ‘digital ecosystems,’ I’m referring to the interconnected networks of software, hardware, and services that make up the digital landscape we interact with daily. This includes social media platforms, search engines, and mobile applications, among others.
Just like abusive people in many relationships, digital ecosystems make you believe they care about you, but they don’t. Their goal is primarily attention-grabbing at best and manipulation at worst.
It sounds ridiculous to think of apps and technology as abusive partners, but they are. They embed themselves into our daily lives. They are why many of us ignore the world around us, our families, partners, kids, friends, etc. It happens, and I recognize people experience this at different levels, but most of us dedicate more time to technology (apps, gadgets, etc.) than to our beloved humans.
What’s the solution? I don’t know. I place myself in a position that helps me ignore technology. For example, when I sit to eat, I try not to take my phone out of my pocket. It stays there, which helps me avoid glancing at it occasionally. I work from home, so to separate my work life from my personal life, I add physical space. For example, I allocate specific hours to work and walk away from my work desk once I am done with it. I also only work on that desk during the week, during my work hours.
I have moved apps off of the home screen on my phone and only have what I consider essential apps there. For example, I have all notifications disabled. I look at the messaging app my family often uses to find out if there are any important messages from a family member. If an emergency arises, I’ll get a call.
I removed all work-related applications from my phone as well. So when I am off work, I am off work. And if an emergency came up where someone would need my assistance, they could text me or call me.
Technology has become an integral part of our lives today, and it’s hard to imagine living without it. However, it’s important to recognize that sometimes technology can be abusive to our relationships, just like people can. The constant use of technology can make us ignore the world around us, including our loved ones. Therefore, it’s up to us to take control of our relationship with technology and create boundaries.
The solutions mentioned in this essay are just a few ways to help us break free from the constant cycle of notifications, alerts, and the pressure to be connected 24/7. By taking control of our relationship with technology, we can ensure that our time and attention are directed toward the things that truly matter, our family, friends, and the natural world around us. So, let’s strive to be mindful of our technology use and create healthy relationships with it.