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It would be most of our first choices to have relationships in the real world; but for many
of us, it is a great deal more plausible to pursue them with, and via, our phones. Phones
provide exemplary compensation for the frustrations of living with actual people. Unlike them,
they are always responsive to the touch and their malleability provides the perfect excuse
for disengagement from the trickier aspects of true connections.
When a friend or partner launches into an account of their day or an analysis of one
of our alleged faults, it becomes almost irresistible not to give these phones a quick check: a
friend in another country may have just had a baby or someone we vaguely know might have
a new opinion on a change in direction in the nation's foreign policy. Our phones
promise us access to people who are so much less tricky than those in close physical proximity.
Humans we have known for years get judged against angels we have yet to spend a real-life
minute with. At our most vulnerable moments, technology companies promise us that they
will be able to locate that lodestar of contemporary romance: 'the right person'. The pictures
they lay out before us are certainly beguiling. The implicit thesis is that relationships
have gone wrong for us so far not because they are inherently hard and we are properly
tricky to live with, but because we haven't yet found people with whom we are sufficiently
compatible. There is not much room for the idea that compatibility may be an achievement
of love and should not therefore – fairly – be expected to be its precondition. Then,
to compound the situation, our phones offer to show us a fascinating range of people without
clothes. Porn doesn't judge and it doesn't ask for anything back. Closeness to a real
life partner brings with it so many complications: unresolved resentments, a daily need to put
up with a person's less reasonable sides and an imperative to face up to our own huge
failings. But the porn site doesn't mind that you slammed the cupboard door and it
has no desire to take you up on your attitude to credit card debt. It doesn't need intimacy
and it doesn't complain if you don't say much. Its implicit message is: we don't
care about anything other than your pleasure, you can be as you are. With bliss and at a
terrible hidden cost, it removes sex entirely from the emotional landscape. Then there are
the small hearts and ticks. It can feel desperately naive or narcissistic to admit it – but
in essence, almost all of us deeply like being 'liked' – and our phones know this so
well. We are genuinely moved by a message letting us know that Matteo from Wisconsin
or Emile from Livorno wants to be our friend. These little words 'like' and 'friend'
set off such deep and tender longings in our souls.
The momentary excitement they unleash reveals a secret pang of hope that our inner solitude
will be pierced, that our troubles and joys will be truly understood by another; and that
all the messages we wish to send to the world will be received and perfectly understood,
at least by someone. It is poignant – and, in its own quiet way, properly tragic. We
should not be frightened by our loneliness or by the difficulties of our real relationships.
What we should perhaps try to avoid is the faith that our phones can offer us a genuine
solution to the tensions of love. We should, when we can manage it (and often we simply
can't), try to put these technological wonders to one side and try to do something properly
futuristic for a while: attempt to love the bewilderingly complex, often maddening and
sometimes very precious flesh and blood people presently dwelling in
the vicinity.
If you want to learn more about love, try our book on how to find love,
which explains why we have the types we do and how our early experiences give us scripts on how and whom we love.
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手機是情感的橋樑,還是一道科技牆? (Does Your Phone Help or Hinder Your Relationships? )

273 分類 收藏
April Lu 發佈於 2018 年 9 月 27 日    Karen 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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