Mobile technology is a vital innovation for our busy 21st-century lives; it helps us in a variety of ways to organise and coordinate our professional and personal lives, and it makes it easy for us to manage many tasks at once and in one place. While the convenience of mobile technology is indubitable, constantly being on our mobile devices has, over the years, changed the way we interact with one another and has impacted the depth of our connections; these changes have been both positive and negative. Our collective mission should be to enhance the positive effects of mobile technology while finding ways to improve on the ways in which it deteriorates our connections with others.

Every you go, you see people staring down at their screen with various facial expressions. Our mobiles are such integral parts of our lives that most of us can’t even imagine going 20 minutes without picking up our device; whether we’re walking, standing or sitting, we’re always on our phones.

The interesting thing about mobile technology is that it has a dual ability to connect and disconnect us with the world around us. Thanks to mobile apps, for instance, you can communicate with a loved one who lives in another city or country. A Skype or FaceTime call will make you feel as though your loved one is right there with you—thousands of kilometres disappear in an instant. And this is one major positive aspect of mobile technology. Another positive is that it helps facilitate our relationships by enabling us to schedule meetups, invite people to get-togethers and navigate our way to meet up with people. The problem starts when we are around and with people.



Mobile technology has changed the nature of our behaviours in social gatherings and public spaces. Wherever we go, we take our phones with us and we always have them in our hands, trying to balance a catch-up session with a friend with keeping up with work emails—this is the ugly side of our usage of mobile technology; it’s slowing incinerating the fabric of our relationships. We have all been in a social situation where someone will leave the table, mid conversations, and walk away to answer a call, thereby neglecting tacit but normative social expectations.

There exists a mismatch between the dynamism and portability of mobile technology and what we expect from people. If you’re on a date with someone who has expressed their intention to be with you, you expect them to listen to you, talk to you and be present in the moment; if they constantly look down at their phone, you’ll doubt the veracity of their intentions and you probably won’t be keen to hang out with them again. As noted by writer Nehal Vora in her research paper about mobile technology and our social behaviours in public spaces,  “With newer technologies, we keep increasing the distance between each other, thereby causing some anxiety between ourselves and our companion…”


The problem isn’t mobile technology in and of itself; the issue is our engagement with it.


While it is indeed wonderful that mobile technology has made our lives far easier than they were a decade or two ago, it is a common observation that it is affecting the depth of our relationships. In some instances, it enriches relationships and, in others, it has the potential to disrupt a relationship. It’s a fascinating social phenomenon; mobile technology is bringing us closer to those who are far away but creating a distance between us and those who are closer to us in proximity. What this points to, really, is the fact that the problem isn’t mobile technology in and of itself; the issue is our engagement with it and that’s what needs to be adjusted.

Technology is always advancing and the rate at which it is doing that will only grow faster. As new services are introduced to our mobile devices, the way we do things will continue to change. What will not be shaken, however, is the need for deep human connection. We want to feel seen and heard, not dismissed and isolated. In using our mobile devices, we need to be intentional about putting our relationships first. Obviously, there will be times when you need to use your mobile device for reasons related to your social interactions; the point here is to know where to draw the line.

There are ways we can use technology to enhance our relationships. As articulated by Vora, “Technologies are always in flux and so is our connection with them. What remains constant is our relationship with people. If we find a way to nurture this relationship within the myriad world of technology, we can overcome the concerns of communicative relationships”




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