Nautilus

The New Tech of Relationships

Our relationship to technology and the benefits we reap from it depends on how much we make it our own.

This realization has motivated me to contextualize the drumbeat we hear about the perils of technology, particularly social media: increased isolation, difficulty empathizing, and impaired conversational skills. Rather than regarding technology as an external force or temptation that we have to struggle against, I propose thinking about the alliances that we form with technology. This alliance begins when we acquire or access something, perhaps a new device, service, or data, and evolves as the technology challenges us and we challenge it. We bring the technology into social situations it wasn’t designed for. We draw on it to negotiate the limitations that we see in ourselves. In exploring new applications for it, we find new perspectives on ourselves and our social worlds.

distant connections: Some people have used smart lights, controlled via smart phones, to feel connected when far away.Shutterstock

The commonality across the three stories presented here is individuals’ adaptation of technology to meet their own objectives. Their significance is personal and interpersonal. For readers who work in technology development, perhaps these examples will inspire designs that reflect how people see themselves over time, or how they construct the significant relational and emotional themes in their lives. Too often tech designs focus on discrete tasks rather than taking into account the intricate, evolving self that each user brings to those tasks.

These stories invite us to reflect on our lives and our devices—that is, to engage them as supportive allies in our quest for connectedness and well-being.

Connected Lights

Elana is not a gadget person. She has minimalist sensibilities and wouldn’t normally spruce up her

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus9 min readPsychology
Our Brains Tell Stories So We Can Live: Without inner narratives we would be lost in a chaotic world.
We are all storytellers; we make sense out of the world by telling stories. And science is a great source of stories. Not so, you might argue. Science is an objective collection and interpretation of data. I completely agree. At the level of the stud
Nautilus9 min readRelationships & Parenting
Families of Choice Are Remaking America: Through their networks of friends, singles are strengthening society’s social bonds.
When Dan Scheffey turned 50, he threw himself a party. About 100 people packed into his Manhattan apartment, which occupies the third floor of a brick townhouse in the island’s vibrant East Village. His parents, siblings, and an in-law were there, an
Nautilus6 min read
The Big Bang Is Hard Science. It Is Also a Creation Story.: Even with its explanatory power, Big Bang theory takes its place in a long line of myths.
In some ways, the history of science is the history of a philosophical resistance to mythical explanations of reality. In the ancient world, when we asked “Where did the world come from?” we were told creation myths. In the modern world, we are inste