How Technology Has Shaped Relationships in Uganda

As Ugandans, we’ve all felt the wave of technological change. From mobile money transactions to the ever-present glow of smartphones, it’s undeniable that technology has impacted our lives. But how has it affected the way we connect with each other, especially when it comes to building strong, lasting relationships?

Take dating for example. Paul Brunson, a relationships expert, suggests that dating apps, while offering a wider pool of potential partners, can create a paradox of choice. We might swipe through endless profiles, overwhelmed by options, but struggle to find someone who truly aligns with our values and goals.

This resonates with the point made by retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Asan Kasingye (on X) about the difference between Makerere University students before and after smartphones. Back then, students relied on face-to-face interactions, fostering deeper connections that could benefit them later in life. Today, social media groups connect vast numbers virtually, but these connections may lack the depth that comes from recognizing a classmate across a crowded room in a foreign country.

So, what can we do to navigate this new technological landscape and ensure our connections are meaningful? Here are some ideas:

  • Be intentional about online dating: Don’t just swipe mindlessly. Reflect on what you’re looking for in a partner and use dating apps strategically to filter for those who share your goals. Look beyond profile pictures and focus on shared interests and values.
  • Strike a balance: While social media can be a great way to stay connected, prioritize face-to-face interactions. Participate in social groups or clubs that align with your interests, be it a local sports team, cultural association, or book club. Building social capital through in-person interactions can be incredibly rewarding.
  • Embrace the power of “beige flags”: As Brunson suggests, don’t shy away from highlighting your unique quirks and interests in your online profiles. Authenticity attracts those who appreciate you for who you are and fosters deeper connections.
  • Cultivate digital etiquette: Constant texting and social media updates can create a false sense of closeness. Put your phone away during meals and conversations to focus on the person in front of you.
  • Use technology to enhance, not replace, communication: A thoughtful video call with a loved one can be a wonderful way to connect. But don’t rely solely on technology for emotional intimacy.
  • Focus on quality over quantity: Social media can create pressure to have a vast network of online friends. Instead, prioritize nurturing deeper relationships with a smaller group of people who truly matter.
  • Be mindful of online comparisons: The curated perfection we see online can distort reality and fuel feelings of inadequacy. Remember, social media is often a highlight reel, not a reflection of everyday life.
  • Promote digital literacy: Educate yourself and others about the potential pitfalls of technology, like online scams and social media addiction. Encourage responsible use of technology, especially among younger generations.

Technology is a powerful tool, but it’s up to us to use it wisely. By being mindful of its limitations and actively seeking out real-world connections, we can ensure that Ugandan relationships, whether romantic or professional, continue to thrive in the digital age.