Intimacy in the Time of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Smart Gadgets
We live in a world where your refrigerator can order groceries online, you can ask Siri to recommend the best Italian restaurants nearby, or order Alexa to dim the room lights. Spotify can recommend the next ear-worm while Netflix can introduce you to the best TV show you’ll ever binge. From recommendation algorithms to virtual tour of properties and life-like gaming, we interact with technology daily. The man-machine relationship has reduced human interaction to a level where it has affected intimacy.
In the ‘Netflix and Chill’ era, romantic date nights have taken a backseat: partners prefer to order in, and binge shows, instead of a night out. Contentment and life satisfaction have taken a turn for the worse with unattainable #Goals. We still throw parties, but rather than talking to each other, we prefer to chat online. Now the problem isn’t with chatting, it’s with online interactions that take precedence over genuine heart-to-heart. Slowly, this has seeped into how we act, making communication very mechanical and devoid of human emotions. The constant distractions are hampering physical as well as emotional intimacy.
Rise of technology addiction
Technology isn’t inherently good or bad, the over-dependency is what breeds several problems. Whether it is the local transport or a roadside café, you won’t find a lack of people glued to their phone screens and tapping away like there’s no tomorrow. While it might sound funny, addiction to technology is all too real. The rate at which adults consume online media and depend on technology for everyday chores is frankly alarming.
The technology was meant to help and not hinder. What makes addictive substances difficult to resist is the dopamine kick they are supposed to provide. The same is the case with present-day technology. The feel-good factor when someone likes your Instagram post or comments on your Facebook update is what keeps you coming back for more. While it might feel harmless, anyone can fall into this loop, which eventually develops into a severe addiction. Proven cases suggest that technology addiction is one of the several reasons behind crumbled relationships. Pathological addiction to technology leaves very little time for real-world interactions which are quintessential to a healthy relationship.
The curious case of digital isolation
While a majority of the technology in use today was built to connect people, it has had quite the opposite effect. There is no denying that the internet and social media has indeed shrunk the world, but constant communication has taken a toll on actual human connect and turned us into isolated individuals. We have become so used to online communication that we have replaced face-to-face communication with digital interaction. This confusion between real and digital connection has grave consequences on our relationships.
It is difficult to read emotions while chatting, and we often, unintentionally, end up saying things we regret later. Relationships are built on understanding and openness–whether it is sad news, conflict, or joy, open discussions with your partner strengthen the bond. Online chatting provides a platform where sharing difficult news becomes easier because there is a certain sort of anonymity to hide behind and avoid raw emotions. This robs us of the opportunity to come close and process the feeling of loss, together.
Compromising time spent with loved ones
Given our current lifestyle, everyone seems to be busy 24×7–always on the move, always working. Whatever time we can take out of our hectic schedule, we should spend with our loved ones. But our tech dependency and addition take a toll here as well. The only cure to quitting this toxic addition is practicing restraint. Start small by banning the use of smartphones during meals and encouraging family interaction.
Substituting physical intimacy with digital means
Physical and emotional intimacy constitutes the building block of any successful relationship. Addiction to sexting and pornography have proven to affect an individual’s sex drive and setting unrealistic expectations. With tech proliferation in the adult entertainment industry, VR enabled pornography has offered several lucrative venues which can be hard to resist. When practiced in moderation, both sexting and pornography can be adventurous for a couple, but the problem arises when physical intimacy is threatened due to their continued abuse.
The only way out of this technology-laden hole we have dug ourselves into is by practicing self-control. So, drop that phone, grab your loved one, look into their eyes, and bare your soul with SKYN®.