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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

Is Technology Breaking Families Apart

Voice of Reason:

Is Technology Breaking Families Apart and Killing Intimacy Softly?

“I’m in my room and I kan’t come 2 da kitchen rt now...lifve my food by my door!”

WELCOME TO the new world according the tech-savvy generation---thanks in part to our fixation on instant-gratification.

How would you feel if you lived under the same roof and got a text message from your teenager in her bed room next door, telling you that you should not wait for her to join you for church or dinner? What happened to family interactions and healthy discussions about careers, education, culture, politics and movies at the dining room table?

Verbal communication and eye-to-eye bonding are the pillars of the African culture in general and Ghanaian traditions in particular. However, how long can we maintain these unique cultural traits when we’re too busy developing serious relationship with our mobile phones and other technology devices? It’s believed by social scientist that the first step towards a dysfunctional relationship is the breakdown in intimacy and verbal communication.Unfortunately, the introduction of technology in this part of the world and our over-reliance on it are speeding up this process in an alarming rate. Nevertheless, it’s not only eroding the joys of basic communication but it’s destroying the very magic of intimacy and relationships.

Listen to this: According to the recent survey by technology experts, in United Kingdom, almost fifty percent of young adults interviewed, admitted tweeting, texting or sending email(from their rooms) to members of their families living in the same house. It went on to say that the majority of teenagers in developed world have virtually cut off their parents from their lives because of their over-reliance on cell phones and other tech devices.

Despite all the studies coming out against the over-reliance on technology, the tech-savvy enthusiasts believe that the only people who are reacting to these changes are old-fashioned and that they’re romanticizing and dreaming about their old-world that once defined communication-----trunk calls and telegrams. Oh, Plea-ze!! Are people of my generation frightened or intimidated to believe that their children’s non-verbal communication tools reflect penciling them out of life? Not at all!

In fact, some people of my generation have upgraded their skills to meet and confront the new challenges. The majority of them tend to look at computers and mobile phones as friends and allies, not enemies.For every whining oldie; there are other old people who have superbly adapted to this new communication devices and tools. Infact, they’re thoroughly enjoying their multi-faceted joys; by sexting, texting and emailing, (pornography included, thank you!!)

Yes, technology is a God-sent solution as a communication tool for human kind .it’s indeed, a means to an end, not the end itself. But, aren’t we in a hurry to place personal interaction with silly,coded,corny, and condensed tight and weirdly words? The new generation’s over-reliance on technology is gradually eroding the main fabric of family system and our culture.

However, it’s going to be a hard sale to tell the tech-savvy or the young generation that social expression, body language, emotional articulation and personal interaction are the essence of human communication tools because they’re too busy depending on their virtual friends on face-book and texting 24/7. They argue that” what is wrong texting if you’re in your room and need to convey a message to a member of your family in another room in the same house and you feel really, really lazy to get up?” Oh, yes, it’s very impossible to realize the importance of human touch and verbal communication in human development when we’re too busy checking email, texting 24/7 and marrying to our technological devices. But, a day will come when we will not need any of them—trust me! In our modem-connected, Ipaded, Iphoned,Face-booked,Text-messaging and social –networking era, some people have the false impression that personal interaction and eye-to –eye communication are not important because we’re relying or depending on the latest devices to nourish our virtual friendships or relationships with no sweat. But, people still want to be loved and assured that they can count on their friends and relatives physically and emotionally when they’re sick or disabled.

Paradoxically, the new generation want family and strong sense of community, but they may accomplish that desire through a social network; where there is never physical contact or presence.

Well, as for me I hope and pray that one day when the need comes for me to need help I could reach out and touch the warm hands of loved-ones when a mouse or a key pad of any tech. device is useless and unsympathetic to my emotional and physical needs .That is why I prefer two minutes phone call to two- line text messages from my kids on father’s Day, if I can’t see them in person. I’m not trying to be an old-fashioned or over-bearing but , I just need a little authentic relationship and human touch as much as possible. Don’t you? Don’t fake it!

Author: Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (Voice of Reason)

Asuom, Ghana

*The author is a social commentator and the founder of The Adu-Gyamfi Empowerment foundation for Disadvantaged youth of Asuom.