How Does Digital Intimacy Impact Familial Love?

Written by: Julie

Edited by: Chris

Visual by: Yana

There are undoubtedly many limitations with our interactions with our families via online platforms. Whether it be the lack of intimacy or touch in general, it is a completely new experience for many of us. Holiday dinners with our extended family have been reduced to a zoom call, each group of family members with their own cuisine; really expanding on the whole “what can you see but not touch and feel” riddle. Love is not bound by the concept of touch, but intimacy often is. This brings forth a new idea of loneliness. How is the love we share with our families shackled by the concept of intimacy, or the lack thereof? In the same way distance impacts romantic feelings, how is our familial relationships and love changed by this new barrier?

An untouchable love; this kind love never seems to work out in movies or books. Humans often seek verification of love in the form of physical intimacy, whether it be a kiss, a hug, or even a pat on the head or back. It is also the obvious limitation of digital interactions. When interviewed on the subject, a sophomore commented that she agreed that online meetings were less personal and intimate than face to face meetings, including interactions with family members. “It’s also really awkward,” the sophomore added, “usually it’s the hug, when I go to my grandparents place, that breaks the tension. Now, we are just asking superficial questions to each other and it feels distant– like we’re just talking with each other for the sake of it…” The sophomore expressed her regrets concerning her interactions with her grandparents. 

Likewise, a research paper on internet intimacy revealed that people felt that relationships that were sustained without the influence of digital technology were more authentic and natural. However, due to the pandemic and the lockdown, many relationships outside our direct families (or sometimes even relationships with our direct family members) can only be sustained through reliance on online platforms. 

In conclusion, relationships with our family members are greatly impacted by the overall dependence on online platforms and the inability to interact face-to-face with each other. It is inevitable that our love for our family members could also fade with the lack of genuine interactions, much like in long distance relationships, as previously mentioned. However, with the rise of digital technology, with platforms improving its features rapidly to satisfy consumer needs, it is likely that even after the pandemic that many of these online communication platforms will still thrive, and humanity will resume on its course towards a more digital age. That being said, digital intimacy is also being practiced, with the screen being less of a barrier as time passes and its advantages starting to overshadow its disadvantages, stressing just how adaptive humans are. While our current situation may shackle our love and ability to maintain intimate relationships, only time will tell when these aspects will no longer impact us significantly. Perhaps in the near future, distance will no longer be an issue and strain our relationships with our families and other loved ones.

Bibliography:

Dalessandro, Cristen. “Internet Intimacy: Authenticity and Longing in the Relationships of Millennial Young Adults.” Sociological Perspectives, vol. 61, no. 4, Aug. 2018, pp. 626–641, doi:10.1177/0731121417753381.