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Two thirds of all interactions between friends now take place electronically, a study has revealed. Research into the ways in which we maintain modern friendships found time spent actually talking on the phone or meeting in person pales in comparison to the volume of texts, emails and social media contact.
The study, of 2000 adults aged 18-35, found the average adult now carries out 65% of their communication electronically via 140 texts, 72 Facebook interactions and 40 emails per month to friends and family.
Remarkably though, around half of us haven’t spoken to our closest friend on the phone for over a month, with contact maintained through an endless stream of electronic messaging.
The research, which was commissioned by print and post specialist Docmail, found one in four feel they rely too heavily on electronic media when it comes to staying in touch.
Dave Broadway of Docmail said:
”It’s clear to see that there is a heavy reliance on digital communication and that for the most part this enhances and adds value to our friendships.
”But the results show that many of us feel we rely on it too much and that it’s actually changing the dynamics of our relationships.
”While we may be in more constant contact and have the ability to share and bring visual elements to our conversations, the time we spend speaking on the phone or even making the effort to see each other face to face is in decline.”
Nearly two thirds (63%) of those polled have people they consider friends but only ever contact via text or on Facebook.
One third said they never go an hour without some sort of interaction with friends via Facebook, instant chat or text.
Indeed, more than half the study say their conversations are almost never ending, with texts or Facebook posts going back and forth over a period of days.
A text-happy 45% actually have someone they feel they are permanently in contact with due to the sheer volume of electronic exchanges, but two thirds feel the amount of online interaction fails to enhance their friendships and the same number feel they do not see people face to face enough.
In fact, 40% hadn’t seen their closest friend in over a month and more than half hadn’t managed a phone conversation.
The shift away from talking on the phone was clear, with a third of Brits claiming they don’t like talking on the phone, even with friends.
As a result, social media is becoming integral to our relationships – remarkably, a quarter of us believe you cannot sustain a friendship in modern times without the use of Facebook.
However, despite the hesitance in talking on the phone and reduced face to face contact, when it comes to sentiment, traditional methods still reign supreme.
If thanking someone or wanting to express something sincerely, many believe talking face to face or sending a proper parcel or thank you note are still the best ways to deliver the strongest impact.
While many of those polled said they valued a letter from a friend or package in the post far more than any text, email or social media post received.
Dave Broadway added:
”It seems that there is an increasing trend to avoid talking on the phone and instead text or use social media. It raises the argument of what matters more, the amount of communication or the quality?
”The results show that when it comes to showing real meaning or wishing to display genuine sentiment, electronic or online tools aren’t adequate and that traditional methods like receiving something in the post or face to face contact will always be regarded as more meaningful.”