Future of digital relationships

Praveen S
Tuesday, March 1, 2022

How addicted are we to digital devices? The best answer is that we are addicted more than we want to be. Let us take a look at some hard facts; an average person checks 150 times his mobile phone, 52% of people wake up from sleep to check their phones, 26% of the accidents happen while using a mobile phone. As I said, these are hard facts; what about facts about softer aspects of our life? Facts on the effect of digital devices on our emotionality are difficult to quantify and even more challenging to measure. How it influences our relationships and family life is also a softer fact.


Can the world afford to continue digital?  My answer is both Yes and No. The world can continue to be digital on all industrial applications - machines, production, sorting things, tracking things, scheduling,  and maybe even planning. However, when it comes to managing relationships, the answer is no. The influence of digital devices on a person's relationships can be understood using two concepts - breadth and depth. The use of digital devices has certainly influenced the breadth of our relationships - an average person has more relationships than ever; he is connected to more people on an average than 20 years ago. When it comes to the depth of the relationship, the depth of an average relationship is weaker than ever. By depth, I mean the strength of the relationship. In network theory, depth is also indicated by the term 'tie-strength.' Relationships facilitated through digital gadgets will lack depth due to a lack of personal, close encounters with many touchpoints.


How are these facts - hard facts on the addictive behavior related to the use of digital devices and soft facts on the effect on emotionality and relationship going to influence our use of digital devices? A way of answering the question is by analyzing its trend. When it comes to the relationships space, while the 2010s were about connecting through digital devices, 2020s is spanning to be about reconnecting physically. More and more people are stressing about their physical relationships and avoiding and limiting all forms of digital interactions. If the trend continues, maybe the 2030s could be about back to physical.