Undoubtedly, there is space and value in both online and offline interaction. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the value of having the opportunity to connect through online means. At a time when physical proximity was not an option, being online with others is what supported us to sustain our relationships and contact. However, many still missed and craved the physical presence and proximity of those they love. This is because there are differences between online and offline interactions, and for many, one mode cannot completely replace the other but rather they can complement each other well. In this blog I will write about the interplay between online and offline interaction; how they can act as either a way to disrupt or enhance the other.
How can your online interaction disrupt your offline life? Are there ways in which you feel that your online presence dampens your physical interactions with others? According to Lieberman and Schroeder (2020), the presence of a phone can be distracting if given our attention while in the presence of others. In fact, use of a phone during social interaction results in a decrease in the feelings of connectedness and enjoyment gained from social interaction. Another example could be the impact of perfecting the physical environment or appearance to take a photo to share on social media. Such practices have been found to increase concerns with presentation and appearance, while decreasing the enjoyment of that experience.
When complementing one another, our online and offline interactions can also enhance or strengthen one another. One such example was mentioned at the start of this blog; the pandemic. Online interactions can be of support when offline interactions are not possible. Another example of this is when you and the person you are interacting with live in separate countries, thus making relationships such as those that are long-distance possible. A second example of how our online presence can benefit our offline life is through introducing us to opportunities where we can develop offline relationships.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.