I find that the pressure to be in the loop on the various social media sites today is intense. And let's not pretend that maintaining all those memberships is not affecting our ability to relate to the people staring us in the face every day. Since I'm writing about marriage this week, I'll tell you where I land in reference to that.
There is a fine line between harmless distraction and neglect of relationship. And that line is really hard to spot. But we all know it's there. It's the point at which the time you may be spending with your spouse begins to be replaced with too much time looking at a screen. Maintaining a social presence on one's blog, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook does not happen in a vacuum. It happens at a cost. And I have a reverence for my own marriage enough to (most of the time - what? you thought I was perfect??) keep my head up, and my laptop closed when I have an opportunity to be with my husband. Because, honestly, those opportunities for quality time together for us are rare, and I'm not about to jeopardize them.
A lot of times, he's home but unavailable, or asleep, or working out in the garage. And I allow myself to clickity-clack away at my desk. But if he is available, I try to hang out with him. I feel our time alone together is so infrequent that I want him to know I'd choose him first. Because I would. That's not to say we both don't need alone time. We allow for that on both sides. But we try to be responsible with our online connectedness, and keep it in the margins of our home life. Again, I say we try. Which means sometimes we fail. Sometimes I'm embarrassed at how hard it is to tear away from checking my blog, or how I read emails on my phone to force my eyes awake in the morning. Sometimes I get annoyed at how many times my husband looks at his phone on a Saturday when we're all together. Our lives are interwoven with our devices and that's not a bad thing. It simply provides new challenges to act responsibly with them.
Technology and social media, while claiming to help build relationships, are more likely to sneak in and become wedges in our most important ones. I don't think that is a surprising statement to anyone. Of course anything could be a wedge...any activity or pursuit that subtracts from the marriage in a major way can become a threat to it. But for whatever reason, we're less inclined to suspect the same from social media. Perhaps because we can be sitting next to the person we love, feeling "present" in our own home, yet the reality is we are mentally and emotionally in a completely different world.
Jon Acuff has a great post on social media and marriage here. I had to share it, because for one, he's super funny, and for two, we are all living this crash of technology and relationship. It's no small deal. But Jon allows us to laugh at ourselves and our issues, and then he challenges us to walk taller. We have all been with someone so engaged in his or her phone that we feel slighted. We all fear the impact of instant access to everything on a personal device and what that means for our kids, our marriages, and our futures. So read Jon's post and let me know what you think.
This is a great topic for discussion, and I love that he's bringing the subject to the table. Do you have any practices or rules in your home to manage this issue in terms of your marriage?