Want to Strengthen Your Friendships? Then Ditch the Technology.

One travel writer goes to Fiji and discovers that connecting with new friends requires her to shut down her smart phone.
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Markman points out that in our tech-heavy world, we’re all now prone to text-speak chatting that often ends with a smiley face (rather than smiling in person), and because of this, are not as capable at expressing anything complex. When we leave technology out of the picture and focus on human interaction, it promotes a real feeling of closeness that’s often lost with computer-based conversation.

On one early morning, my newfound friend knocked on my hut to see if I was interested in paddle boarding. I immediately thought back to the days when I used to ring my neighbor’s doorbell to see if she could “come out and play.” There’s something so innocent and refreshing about an act where genuine human interaction cannot be ignored.

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Before technology, we all had to rely on being responsible. If you were meeting a friend at 5 p.m., you showed up. You couldn’t text or call their cells when running late. The lack of technology forced you to be more dependable, but it also gave people the respect they deserved. Markman says that technology can get in the way because it can cause you to perform actions that will be interpreted as disinterest. If you show up late and think “I can just text,” what you communicate is that what you’re doing is more important than the person you’re with. “When you take tech away, you are removing that potential and you are putting yourself in a situation where you can communicate that they are more important,” he says. Really, it’s all about being present and giving the person you’re with respect.

Bringing This Experience Back Home

I’m back in New York City, and while life is much different than in Fiji, this trip taught me to be more mindful about who (and what) is in front of me. Markman suggested that I do two things to help continue my “Fijian way of life.” First, I am to create tech-free zones in my house, and secondly, to evangelize my experience. I now drop my iPhone in a basket near the front door to be more aware in my home. I look around when I walk down the busy streets (rather than texting) and meet people in person—always ready to share my experience. And I laugh. A lot.

This post originally appeared on YouBeauty.com. 

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