The average American picks up their phone 96 times a day. Most texts are read within ten minutes of receiving them but only 47% are responded to. People under 50 now prefer texting to phone calls as a primary form of communication. So, not surprisingly, the sheer volume of electronic messages reached an all-time high in 2023.
Yet friendships aren't stronger or better with this increase in communication. While we can make a social media friend in an instant, Fortune magazine is the latest to report most Americans have fewer real friends than ever before.
Text is a very primitive way of communicating - fraught with ambiguity. Humans are equipped with five senses to understand the world around us in real-time. And electronic communication leaves out elements that provide context and dimension to what the other person saying.
What's worse, electronic exchanges rarely happen in real time. Texts arrive at random hours throughout the day. And responses, if they come at all (half of us don't) might appear hours or days later.
UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian found that 58 percent of communication is through body language, 35 percent through vocal tone, pitch, and emphasis, and a mere 7 percent through the content of the message.
So, we are getting a lot more, poor quality, conversations.
Friendships suffer with poor communication. So, it's no wonder they unravel over text or fail to grow beyond the click of the "accept" button. Email has similar limitations but because of its business orientation is less likely to offend.
Not surprisingly, two in five people report they've lost touch or cut ties with a friend or family member in recent years as electronic communication took over and real time, personal contact was reduced.
To strengthen relationships, pick up the phone, plan a lunch, send a thoughtful card in the mail. Or give flowers. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, a handful of blooms in a mason jar left on a doorstep cost next to nothing.
When you give flowers, you lift someone's spirits - 66% of us report feeling better instantly after receiving flowers. Without calories or guilt, flowers are an undoubtedly positive way to communicate in a memorable way.