By Jessica O’Connell
I think we all know how important social media has become in our lives. I feel the need to be connected all.the.time. I am connected to people all over the world through various social networking sites, most notably Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging and Pinterest. I have the apps on my iPhone. I have all the sites up on my laptop. I have to know what is going on at every minute. I check them all before I fall asleep. And if 10 minutes pass and I am still awake, I check them again. I am a consumer of social media.
My husband and I both work full-time. At the end of a long day at work, we fix dinner, eat on the couch and watch TV. While he watches TV, I am also on my computer, consuming said social media. Hours pass and we head to bed, having said maybe 10 words to each other all evening. This is the pattern you get into when you have been together for seven years. This is real life.
After months of this, our relationship started to crack. We were communicating very little, and mostly just during arguments. Every little annoyance blew up into an argument that ended up being about something much bigger. After weeks of this constant arguing, my husband finally said to me, “You don’t pay attention to me anymore!” I was dumbfounded. He was right. In those last six months I had probably just enjoyed his presence for maybe a total of two hours. Two hours in hundreds not consumed with my phone or my laptop or what was happening on Facebook.
I was embarrassed. I guess I didn’t realize that my Internet “hobby” affected him the way it did. I guess I didn’t realize that I had started to pay more attention to my laptop than to my husband. I had started posting exciting news on Facebook instead of telling him in person. I had stopped talking to him in exchange for talking to people I only knew on the Internet. I didn’t realize I was cheating on him with the Internet.
I obviously wanted to stop and fix the problem, but I didn’t want to quit social media cold-turkey. So we worked out a schedule and came up with “black-out” hours where we wouldn’t use our phones and laptops. We started talking more at dinner and started communicating more effectively. He started to speak up when he felt neglected so I was able to fix it before it caused any more problems. And a year later, our relationship is much stronger for it.
In this day and age when everyone is connected 24/7 and you see couples out to eat, both on their phones, not talking to each other, it is hard to step back and unplug. And as hard as this might be to hear, the Internet will always be there tomorrow. Yes, you might not be the first to like someone’s status, but building interpersonal relationships with the real people in our lives might be a little more important than that.
Jess is a married twenty-something living in Colorado with her husband and their dog Max. She has been writing since the age of 5 and just never stopped. Jess has always struggled with her weight and body image and is finding her way to body enlightenment through healthy living and yoga. She likes talking about movies, politics, fashion, gender issues, and feminism.
Photo by Abbie Redmon
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