Civility: Intimacy vs. immediacy

Part Two: Can technology result in an alienation of intimacy and cause psychological conflicts? Is human contact being diminished by technological advancements? What are the consequences? Is there a need for immediate gratification that possibly can decrease life's satisfaction?

With technology there are fewer emotions conveyed wherein more misunderstandings can result. There are three levels of intimacy from highest to lowest.

Level 1: Talking face-to-face, video chats, and telephones are the most intimate where feelings, emotions, and body language can be seen and interpreted.

Level 2: Instant messaging, texting, letter writing, and e-mail are on the middle level. These methods are less personal and intrusive than phone calls. This technological level of communication needs to be through factual information, and not emotions. With texting, parents can use this method successfully because it is expedient and keeps the parent more involved.

Level 3: Social media through Facebook and Twitter are the least intimate. Social media is a safe way for introverts who are afraid of close relationships, but this can be costly and devoid of intimacy. Having 500 friends at a distance does not contribute to intimacy, but can be a way to keep in touch with family and close friends that can encourage group activities, where bonding can occur. Social media creates more distant and less intimate relationships.

Online dating is a technologically distancing situation, but can be a precursor to deeper personal connections and lifetime relationships. In the past, high school and college dating were almost always one-on-one; now it often starts and continues as group dating, which lessens intimacy.

The positive part of the equation is that relationships have a slower and perhaps deeper developmental process in developing a foundation of intimacy. Increasingly, relationships lack intimacy, which, is primarily due to the use of technological tasking and immediate gratification.

We are in a busy world, sometimes not taking time to make human contact. There are advantages and disadvantages to our lives being intertwined by technology. We need the technology, but we also need deep human contact and intimate relationships. It is learning how to create a balance between the two that will enrich our lives.


Intimacy Quiz

Decide whether your response to each statement is mostly true or false

I am quite open and trusting of strangers.

I easily and openly share my feelings with others.

I cry at sad movies.

I have no problem sharing my "personal space" with others.

I am highly sensitive to those who are in need.

There are times when I have trouble saying "no."

I would rather be known as "cooperative" than "competitive."

I am known by others as kind and supportive.

I wish all my friends would openly share their feelings with me.

Most people are genuinely interested in the well-being of others.



0-3 Low Need for Intimacy (I feel uncomfortable when others seek an intimate relationship with me).

4-6 Moderate Need for Intimacy (I am somewhat cautious with whom I share intimate feelings).

7-10 High Need for Intimacy (I prefer intimate relationships).


DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, is an etiquette & civility specialist/image stylist. She can be contacted through or (626) 584-9761.

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