Communicating Despite Technology

What Women Really Think
May 26 2009 3:10 PM

Communicating Despite Technology

Can this marriage be saved? Yes, it can-through letters. Check out yesterday’s Op Ed in the Times by a military wife facing marital strains, who turned to an old-fashioned remedy. The life of military spouses certainly is anomalous (I also recommend Double X ’s own "Threeway," a conversation among three military wives who have written books), but I wonder if there’s something for all of us in Melissa Seligman’s surprising account of "learning to communicate despite technology."

As a new wife struggling to build a new family with her husband sent off on serial deployments, she found herself dreading the real-time connectivity that can make Afghanistan seem not so far away. When the instant message buzzed, summoning her to the webcam to commune, she had to be on, however she was really feeling. Her toddler, moments earlier clamoring for daddy, would clam up at the sight of his face. Lousy reception, sudden loss of reception ... Marital bonds grew as tenuous as satellite signals.

Advertisement

Synchronicity, instant connectivity, the illusion of non-separation: These days, technology offers a triumph over distance and time, a promise of readier intimacy. Yet those powers can also spell, as it seems to me we do well to be reminded, the opposite: How easy it is to feel trapped by the pressure to be constantly, immediately reactive; chasms can open within and between us; time tyrannizes. "And then we found salvation in letters." Seligman discovered liberation in the chance to be expressive, on her own terms. She began writing her husband letters. Her predicament isn’t anything like most of ours, but as we text, and blog, and tweet, is there a lesson in it?

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How Moscow’s Anti-War March Revealed One of Russia’s Deepest Divides

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 3:33 PM Killing With Kindness My in-laws want to throw me a get-well-from-cancer bash. There’s no way I can go.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 7:46 PM Azealia Banks’ New Single Is Her Best in Years
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 11:23 AM Two Impacts, One Landslide … on Mercury
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.