Figuring out the technology side of relationships

by Sydnee Brooker

MCT Campus
MCT Campus

Modern technology is drastically changing the way people communicate, collect information and live. According to the International Telecommunication Union, as of October 2010 there were more than 2 billion estimated Internet users and more than 5 billion cellular subscriptions in the world. More than 500 million of those Internet users are active on Facebook and more than 200 million of those members are connecting through their mobile devices.

Technology in the 21st century is providing humans with an array of mediums to send messages, but does the medium change the message? Are aspects of human communication lost through the use of electronics? It seems easy enough to do business through e-mail, stay connected to friends in far places with Facebook and Skype family members on the other side of the country — but what about dating? Can romance be transmitted through the paths of wireless communication?

Research in the past decade has found that couples are engaging in hyper-personal communication and relationship practices. In a recent study, Robert J. Sidelinger summarizes this as a phenomenon when couples find it easier to share their feelings through mediated contexts than face-to-face. His study found that while complete openness in face-to-face interactions may cause neutral or negative feelings about a relationship, openness through computer-mediated communication does not stimulate negative feelings.

Computer-mediated communication and text-biased interactions force more importance on words to represent emotions and portrayals. Mediated communication amplifies similarities and minimizes difference in couples causing idolized perceptions of the self and the other.

Audiology senior Trinity Azevedo and San Diego State graduate Andrew Sterndale have been dating for three years and said it is easier to be more intimate through text messaging than face-to-face.

“We probably text each other about five times a day to stay connected,” Azevedo said. “We are not into PDA and we are not extremely emotional, so texting is a good way for us to remind each other that we are thinking of one another throughout the day.”

The couple also said while they use media such as Facebook to post pictures of each other and their relationship status, they rarely leave comments on each other’s walls or send messages to declare their love publically. This is typical according to a recent Facebook study done on college students. Most users may use Facebook to check up on their romantic partner. but not to spy. Fifty-nine percent of respondents claimed they never went on their significant other’s page or only did so about once a month.

However, a paranoid Facebook population does exist. About 14 percent check up on their partner twice a day. The study summarized this social media site was not used for overt romantic relationship development but sometimes for uncertainty reduction purposes.

Like the rest of society, new media is providing couples with an alternate way to maintain their relationships, but it is obvious computer-mediated communication has a different effect on romantic relationships than on strictly professional and friendly ties.