Just keeping it real: can we talk about screens? And relationships? Do you ever feel like your conversations are split between a human and what’s on your phone?
We’re a busy couple, and it’s hard to admit that there are days and days when our marriage looks like this photo. Two laptops. Two coffees. Two people. Two phones. You see, we were at a restaurant, allegedly 'having a drink' before a school function…but there was a phone call, then an email to send, and I had my laptop with me so I started writing and on and on it goes.
We’re all facing the same question, right? How much is too much? When do the screens intrude and stop us from talking to each other?
We check them so often. Email, instagram, facebook. Too often.
BF Skinner, behavioural scientist, discovered that to ingrain a habit, you just need to give rewards at variable times in variable sizes. The lab rat knows it’ll be given food for pressing the lever, but not exactly when or how much. The result is a compulsive rat. It’s exactly the same with humans. Variable intermittent reinforcement explains why we hang around waiting for those hearts in Instagram and Likes on Facebook. We check-check-check and keep checking.
What are we looking for? Love on a screen. Bings and bongs that tell us we matter.
I had an epiphany while I was sleepless at 4am, and it was this:
For the next while,
I’m going to look for love
in real life.
It’s an experiment.
I’m looking for human connection, for “variable intermittent reinforcement” from a chat with a stranger in the fruit and veg market, from unexpected teenage hugs from my boys, from a wink from this guy I married 21 years ago. (Here he is, reading my latest book. This sneaky photo I took of Luther reminds me that love is a verb; it looks like reading your wife’s early drafts and emptying the dishwasher and being the one to walk the dog.)
A while ago I wrote about the four critical questions in a relationship. The first one is this:
Do you see me?
So if you need a little relationship S.O.S. (and I know that I do!), maybe try this: see the person in front of you, and step away from the screens, especially around the people you love.
Happy weekend everyone.
Love Catherine x
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