Building Intimacy in a Digital World

Building Intimacy in a Digital World

Do you prefer to text, rather than call? It seems that most of our daily communication today comes in written form. Why do we prefer to text and email people, instead of calling them? 

Well, does it really matter in the end? After all, if the dry cleaning, groceries or children need to be picked up, does it really warrant a phone call if I can more efficiently just send a text message?  Why waste the extra time listening to the ringing of the phone as you wait for the other person to pick up? Why take the risk of getting stuck in a long and drawn out unrelated conversation?

The answers to these questions start by recognizing that the dawn of a new relationship paradigm is upon us.  

Certainly text-based communication can seem more efficient! However, the benefit of this convenience is often outweighed by the cost.

There is a priceless entity known as human, emotional and social capital. It is what makes relationships – relational.  Without it, everything we do simply becomes transactional. In other words, it is not about simply getting the job done, but the partnerships we build with the people in our lives.

Consider the number of innovative business deals which are born on the golf course, through friendly handshakes, or over drinks.  They blossom out of the relationships, trust and common ground that is shared by like-minded people.  If those same deals were being negotiated on paper by a group of lawyers, they would seldom get off the ground, weighted by transactions, rather than propelled by people.

There is no doubt that texting is far quicker and more convenient, but it is a transactional form of communication.

Texting may suffice to convey ideas, reminders, needs and thoughts, but may simultaneously bypass and even erode the very foundation of the relationship itself.

What if mundane tasks (like picking up the dry cleaning) were embraced as a part of a healthy, meaningful, and supportive give-and-take relationship? Instead of it being a chore, it becomes part of an intimate dance between two people.  This is where daily living can become relational, and actually uplift and strengthen the bonds that people share.

Scientific research has recently observed that when a parent conveys a message to their child over the phone, the brain detects a soothing and almost therapeutic-like quality, which is absent when the exact message is sent to the child via text. That is the power and intimacy of the voice and relational-based communication.

You may have noticed lately that many people have begun using emoticons and Bitmojis (illustrated caricatures of themselves) to add some life and dimension to their text-based messages. Perhaps there is something wonderfully artistic about this, as it gives an opportunity to color a message with a sense of emotion or flavor. 

Yet, deep down it stems from a desire to feel a deeper connection with other people, one which goes far beyond the words themselves. It comes from a yearning to feel more emotion in our interactions.  Perhaps we are striving to ignite a deeper sense of intimacy within the dull and static text-based communications which fill our days. 

Remember, intimacy is the secret glue that binds two people in a relationship.

What is found within intimacy is a secret nonverbal lexicon. It is a dance of communication without words. It is built upon body language, eye contact, inflection and tone, where two people who know and understand each other can enjoy the depth of a secret connection. Unfortunately, this language becomes extinguished in the face of text messages and email, leaving only the hollow words themselves.

What is the answer?  Text less, talk more.

Yet, in today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, we are led to believe that we are too busy to pick up the phone, as if we cannot afford the extra time it will take to speak to someone. 

However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, we will realize that by not constantly strengthening our relationships and investing in our social capital, the cost in the long-run will be far greater to ourselves, our families and society.

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