Are cellphones making us lonelier than ever?

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Are cellphones making us lonelier than ever?

Phoenix Durban

Could you be addicted to your cellphone? If you are, it could be destroying your relationships.
More people today walk around with their cellphones as an extension of their arm. I see people becoming quite anxious when their phone battery is about to die and there isn’t a charger close by.
We have far more online friends than ever before and fewer real friends that we can meet over lunch or dinner or just to sit around and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Real friends are the ones you can call when you have a crisis or when you have exciting news or simply when you want to hang out and do something fun.
Our online friends are the ones who like and comment on what you post but most likely not the ones you call when you need a friend.
The next time you’re at a restaurant, look around at the number of people sitting at the same table but texting other people.
If one person goes to the bathroom, the other quickly whips out their phone instead of spending a few minutes taking in the surroundings.
When you’re on a date or with family, friends or even work colleagues, if you have your phone in your hand or on the table, you are subconsciously sending a message that the person or people in front of you are not important enough to have your full attention.
We’ve become so used to multi-tasking that we’re doing it with our interactions and losing the true connection.
Dopamine is the chemical that is released when someone who is addicted, smokes, drinks or gambles.
The very same chemical is released when your phone beeps to signal a message and you feel you have to look even though you may be in a conversation with someone or even driving.
Cellphones should not be allowed in conference rooms.
When people are fully present, the quality of the meeting improves, ideas flow more easily, the interaction is genuine, creativity increases, and people actually listen and respond and more is achieved in a shorter time.
Personal relationships are no different. If you have to constantly repeat what you said because the person you’re talking to is on their phone, you feel misunderstood, disrespected and definitely annoyed.
We are losing true, intimate connection when we give more attention to the person on the other end of the phone than we do to the person in front of us.

I love technology and what it has done for humanity, but technology in excess, like most things, becomes destructive. Out of balance it becomes addictive and destroys our relationships.
The suicide rate is higher than ever because even with easier methods of communication, we are lonelier than ever.
If we go back to the time before cell phones and you met a new person, you would actually call them (on a landline) and have a conversation.
You would ask them out on a date and spend time face-to-face getting to know each other, instead of reviewing their social media pages. Viewing a person’s online presence is not the same as meeting someone and getting to know them over several dates.
For one, you cannot read a person’s facial expression or hear their tone of voice in a text message.
As a matchmaker, when I introduce two people, I ask them to make a call, introduce themselves and have a brief conversation to set up a coffee date. As a result, they seem to have a more favourable experience than trying to get to know someone by texting.
When texting someone you don’t know well, miscommunication happens because you don’t really know if they have a sense of humour and are saying things tongue-in-cheek.
Or perhaps they are shy and it takes them time to let their guard down so they may seem uninterested, when the opposite might be true.
When someone likes you they may lean closer, or touch your hand or make eye contact for a few seconds longer.
All of this is missing if you are texting as opposed to sitting with them. This misunderstanding could lead to you missing out on a really great person.
Here is my challenge to everyone reading this: For the next week, put away your phone when you are with someone.
Give them your full attention while you are with them.
You can always return calls and texts when you’re alone. Take the time to really listen to the people in your circle, whether work or personal. Have the deeper conversations. Re-connect with people. Invite someone you’ve been texting but haven’t seen for a while, for a cup of coffee.
The more we share ourselves with the people around us, while really listening and paying attention to them, the deeper our connections.
You will feel valued and appreciated because that is how you make the people around you feel. Who knows, after a week, you may just be tempted to try it for another week.
Kas Naidoo is a relationship coach and matchmaker. 

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