Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

To Tech Or Not to Tech

DEAR NATALIE: Do you think technology helps or hurts our ability to communicate? -- TECHGUY

DEAR TECHGUY: Tech is not "all good or all bad." Like most things, it has its pros and cons. Let's explore a few: Pro No.1: Technology allows us to reach people easily, thus allowing us to stay connected for both business and pleasure. Con No.1: Technology allows us to reach people easily. Sometimes we can become so distracted by the people in our phones (so to speak) that we neglect those right in front of us. To counteract this, make a pact to put your phone away during lunch meetings, dinner dates and other social gatherings. Make the focus on who is with you in the moment, not who is texting you. Pro No. 2: We can let people know when we are going to be running late, or have to reschedule a meeting. Therefore, it can be a more flexible world. Con No. 2: It makes for a more flexible world. Why would this be a problem? We learn to rely less on our word. Sure, things come up, but do you find yourself relying on your phone to let people know you are running late (all the time)? Everyone's time is valuable. Try not to use your phone as a crutch, and try harder to stick to your word. This builds character and it lets other people know you are reliable and trustworthy. Pro No. 3: It expands our social horizons, and gives us ample opportunities to meet new people. Con No. 3: It expands our social horizons. You know the saying ... the grass is always greener? The Internet leaves us blind to who we are really engaging with. People can create fantastic lives on Facebook and other social media platforms, giving you the green eyes. Stop fixating about the bigger, better deals out there and start nurturing what good people and things you have in your life right now. It's a mixed bag when it comes to tech and relationships, but the biggest key is having self-awareness. Recognize when you are with others to focus on them and put away the phone. You might even feel liberated! (Even if for only an hour).

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)