Disagreement in the views of partners on the approach to the use of devices is an increasingly frequent element of the relationship that comes to the surface …
Original material by Keith Willsky
Shortly after I started dating the man who later became my husband, I left my cot in the back of a taxi. The next day my iPod broke down. This was in 2011, at the time it was common to listen to music on one device and chat on the other, so I was planning to replace both gadgets. But my boyfriend didn't share my opinion: 'It's time to buy iPhone'. Despite having opposed buying such a device for many years ('who needs all these features?'), His arguments were reasonable and I agreed. I had no idea that this was the first of many cases when my indifference to technology clashed with his desire to have the latest gadgets and see only them in everyone who is present in his life.
We've been together for eight years now, and almost nothing has changed. On the contrary, when I told him that I was writing material about different approaches to the technological world in the context of relationships, his first reaction was to offer to put the material fee back into the piggy bank to buy a new one iPhone.
I don't need a new phone, but that's not the point. The crux of the problem is that mismatches in the views of partners on how to use devices is an increasingly frequent element of relationships that surface and can create a space that is not very conducive to life. We live in 2018, and many of us have let gadgets into our lives. A big difference can be observed in how we use them and evaluate how quickly we feel the need for them after we part with them. For example, Lauren Finney, an Atlanta-based author, writes: “I consider myself an enthusiastic, early adopter, while my life partner is 38 and he signed up for Facebook just two years ago.” She is also puzzled its focusing on using Safari instead of switching to Chrome.
Yes, different points of view on the use of technology can be perceived as something untenable, but according to Steven Dzidzic, creator of the app for monitoring the 'health' of marriage, they can testify to the 'perennial problems that are created around significant differences that constantly cause conflict' . The specific nature of conflict differs from couple to couple, but there are common themes: minor but repetitive frustrations in everyday life. An example is the use of an ordinary light bulb in the presence of 'smart' or distrust, when the partner does not understand the convenience of the method proposed by the other partner.
There are also more serious problems, such as finances. An acquaintance complained about her partner, who spends all her income on gadgets, while she prefers to invest free money on travel. I also came across a similar one: I remember my depression when I was looking forward to the wedding ring, and my boyfriend bought a VR helmet.
When one partner attaches more importance to technique than the other thinks is necessary, the latter feels “rejected and resentful,” said Rachel Hoffman, a relationship psychologist in New York City. When my husband and I are talking and the topic of the weather comes up, then I get angry if he asks the weather from Alexa, the voice assistant from Amazon. For him, this is the best way to get the information he needs; for me, it is to involve a third-party interlocutor in the conversation. (I was outside before! I could tell you about the weather!)
It is important to note that I am not talking specifically and only about smartphone addiction. A smartphone is a utilitarian device, and our relationship with them is unique. Of course, your usage will be different if you are a technophobe or techno enthusiast, but these are very different things. The point is the difference between how I leaf through Instagram in order to get away from the conflict, and my husband's desire to buy a new watch from Apple. The first concerns the impact of smartphone use on relationships, and much has been written about this. The second is different positions on technology and its role in life. It’s the second topic that interests me: what do these different opinions say about us? About our relationship? How can a geek and a luddite comprehend harmony?
Controversy may be based in part on personality traits. Explains Dary Merkens, CTO of developer Gunner Technology: “One of the main reasons people become enthusiastic is the increased openness, how easily you innovate and embrace new experiences.” Gender also plays a role: women tend to be larger use telephones and more often use them as tools for controlling interpersonal relationships, says Leora Trub, head of the Pace University's Psychology and Digital Media Laboratory On the other hand, based on research data from Branded Research, it can be concluded that men more often see technology as a positive addition to relationships.
When it comes to extrapolating values, there is even less validity. Trub notes that technology offers different things to different people: “Using technology often does not mean having a single set of values or beliefs – you need to consider what it means for a particular person.”
But regardless of what my husband's desire to have a Roomba in the house means and my indifference to the performance of the new MacBook, the fact is that in this situation we are together and we need to respect each other's views. Experts suggest the following behavior strategies:
- Talk openly about upsetting. Dzidzic believes disagreements cause more problems when one of the partners ignores the opportunity to smooth the situation, which generates resentment. Instead of quietly pouting that my husband is looking for an answer to a question online at lunch, instead of the two of us speculating on this topic, I should voice my feelings, but leave room for compromise. Dzidzic: “You don’t need to give up your desires, but there are aspects in which you can meet.”
- Give up trying to change the other person. I dream of sitting without phones while reading novels, my husband – that I will start to appreciate and be delighted with the new iOS, but these fantasies will not do us much good. “If one partner is constantly pushing the other to act like him, then there is fertile ground for conflict,” said Raffi Bilek, director of the Psychological Center in Baltimore. Instead of trying to change something, try to accept the difference as part of your partner.
- Set boundaries. Many relationship experts recommend setting clear rules when it comes to technique. This can apply to daily schedules, but also to financial planning or time for personal life: for example, you can cook dinner without gadgets, discuss the size of the monthly budget for devices, and balance each technology-driven activity or purchase with an analog equivalent.
- Remember the pros. Different points of view have unexpected advantages. For example, you can help each other discover new things: Finney opened her husband to joy Instagram, and he, in turn, “reminds me of great experiences in real life.” The difference in interests brings an element very important for harmony to the relationship – individual space. Remember that VR headset that upset me? Now I am grateful to Oculus, because when my husband puts on a helmet and leaves for a spare room to play Fortnite, I can stretch out on the couch and calmly read.
- Don't make it too important. After all, if your partner doesn't spend all of their money on tablets iPad or insists on moving to a yurt in the Yukon, then the problem is by and large not a big deal. In fact, the differences between geek and luddite are relatively small. Bilek: “It is a myth that it is necessary to have joint hobbies, interests and passions for a successful relationship.”
Nice to think about it. I may never share my husband's enthusiasm for the new 32-person Facetime option, and he won’t understand why I prefer the 1 pound book to the lightweight Kindle reader. But after Alexa tells us about the weather on Saturday morning, or I stick my head out of the window and tell us it's warm outside, we'll still go for a walk together, starting our day.
Original material by Keith Willsky
No VR headset can replace human communication, especially if only one person shares an interest in gadgets in pairs. A similar problem seems to have appeared relatively recently, but it has already managed to settle and gain a foothold as a cause for quarrels and conflicts. At the same time, many do not want to acknowledge its existence, believing that this is all – little things that will 'get used to it'. The question is that people often do not realize how their actions, even such fleeting and everyday ones, can hurt loved ones. And this directly correlates with the way we 'communicate' with gadgets in the company of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, anyone else.
Not to say that the ways of solving this unpleasant situation are somehow fundamentally different from the usual disputes in a couple, probably, the decision will be for the partner who sets the tone in the relationship. Yes, there are ways to bring everything to a common denominator, but, as the author of the original text writes, the result will not always be positive changes. Therefore, I would not advise relying on the experience of other people, but focusing on the opinions and feelings of a loved one.