Conflicts with Technology in Interpersonal Relationships

Conflicts within relationships are healthy because of how they aid in getting to know both ourselves and the other person and technology has become just one of the many points of conflict in interpersonal relationships that people have to work through.

Without conflicts, there are no thresholds to break. There would be no movies to watch or stories to be heard if conflicts never arose, they would be utterly boring. What is equally as important as conflicts is having the ability to both recognize and process through them.

One conflict that I often find myself in within my relationships is the tie between communication and technology. This includes having face-to-face conversations with technology in the room as well as having mediated conversations, which are via telephones and/or social networks.

It has become hugely common to talk to someone whilst they are scrolling on their phone/computer/tablet/with a headphone in one ear/playing video games; this phenomenon was strange to me but as it has slowly become a social norm, I have tried to be “modern” in accepting it as an acceptable social norm.

At the beginning of my current relationship, I expressed to Loren that I appreciate when people look at me when we’re talking. In turn, this became him thinking that I required eye contact, when really what I meant was that I do not like it when people are using any technological devices during conversations. I believe not using tech shows commitment to the conversation and therefore my being. Both my sister and Loren convinced me that this was a vice and that I was overreacting to a social norm.

The three causes of conflict delve in (A) behavioral issues, (B) relational rules that are broken, and/or (C) personality conflicts. When it comes to technology and communication, it is commonly a behavioral conflict between two people: one person not paying enough attention to the other due to a phone, computer, video game, or any of the such.

With the people in my life swearing what they do is okay to do, I gradually became less irritated to their behavior. Choosing to compromise, I too started to conform to their actions of not stopping whatever it is that I am doing whilst they talk to me.

Choosing to compromise is an advantageous choice when wanting to move toward positive relational maintenance. While it is polite to stop, it is not completely autonomous to drop everything I’m doing whenever someone has a comment or question.

Unfortunately, I am unable to use technology and have a conversation at the same time; I found this out by entirely ignoring my sister while being on the phone with her and accidentally causing a tiff between us.

Even though I am compromising with these social norms, I can no longer act within these behaviors but I do understand that not everyone is as bad as I am, really some people can get away with it more so because they do not fall utterly silent and become a brick wall.

When wanting to have a deeper conversation, it is important to communicate relational rules where couples know how to still have one-on-one conversations, namely, a time where each pulls themselves away from technology.

Setting these more obvious connecting bids allows for more ease in openness and assurances and less in frustration with wondering how or when one would be able to talk to the other.

Loren and I have spoken and make a “rule” about if I am working then he will not just start talking and assume I can hear him and am listening, and then visa versa.

And when these instances do occur, when we do want to talk to each other or even say a short something to the other, then we preface it with a “hey, do you have a second?” or a “hey, can I pull you away from that for a bit?” or even just “hey, dog.” And when we’re watching something and I want to talk about the show or anything then I will pause it.

Having conflicts in interpersonal relationships in inevitable and being able to work through them with the person the conflict(s) is with is not always certain. It takes time and to work and create relational rules as much as it requires compassion, open-mindedness, and understanding.

Every person is stronger after going through conflict, interpersonally or not, because it challenges who we are as a being, just like the main character in a movie. Without conflict, there is no movie.