Digital media used by adults in the U.S. has reached a peak of 11 hours and 52 minutes (on average) each day. Most of this media is used on our mobile devices for everything from gaming to texting to phone calls. In the U.S. alone, those who use texting on their smartphones send or receive an average of 35 messages per day! 97% of U.S. mobile phone owners use their devices for texting. 65% of U.S. adults in relationships text their partners during the day. While it was easy to find data on texting, emailing, tweeting, and Facebook usage, it was difficult to find out how much time in a person’s day one spends having conversations with loved ones either on the phone or in person.
What I find so intriguing about the reporting of texting and digital media consumption is that we call this “communication”. Maybe I’m a snob, or maybe I’m a stickler for accuracy, or maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy…but texting, emailing and tweeting is not communication. Yes, it is easier. One’s audience is bigger, so you get more bang for your words. The speed is incredible. The immediate gratification (or sometimes mortification depending on what is being conveyed) is unsurpassed. But that’s it. The depth of our communication and satisfaction are not there. It’s like trying to maintain a military operation using Morse Code while lost at sea!
Facebook, which I love, is equally deadening. We think we know what is going on with our friends and family by their little posts throughout the day or weeks. We don’t know the truth of their complicated lives and we shouldn’t fool ourselves either. Too much is left unsaid. Too much is posturing or trying to make other people laugh at our wit or good taste. Too much is about complaint or preaching to the choir.
I admittedly have a way to go with dialing this digital activity down and dialing up in-person conversations on the phone or over tea. In truth, sometimes I just don’t want to have phone conversations with certain individuals because it eats up my day or it requires more of me than I want to give. That said, it then becomes imperative for me to learn better boundaries. Better boundaries always make for better conversations and better relations, right? Let me hear an amen for a struggle we all share!
This week, my experiment will be with my iPhone (or heavens—maybe even my land line(?!) which hasn’t been used in eons--do I even know the phone number any more?). I will use the iPhone for more phone calls and conversations than for texting. So don’t be surprised if a redhead from Virginia “reaches out and touches someone”—that someone could be you! Let’s give old-fashioned connections a try this week and see if it makes us feel better! We might even feel more loved! Wouldn't that be great?!