Are you a face-to-face person or one who prefers digital communication when dealing with others? I ask this question because recent research has indicated that around half of us prefer keeping in touch with our friends via a digital conduit rather than speaking directly to them in the flesh.
This research has been conducted on behalf of BT Mobile in partnership with Dr. Peter Collett who is a former Oxford University lecturer and psychologist working on Big Brother and Body Talk. The aims of the research were to look at how the psychology of friendship had changed due to the influence of the digital age. Nearly 2,000 adults made up the panel of those involved in the research carried out by Ginger Research during the month of January 2016.
According to this research, an almost unbelievable 79% claimed that they have "friends" who they would only stay in contact with via social media while 72% were so ingrained into social media that they felt this virtual media had strengthened their friendship bonds. I just wonder whether those so-called "friends" would be of a similar opinion and whether any consideration was taken into whether these friends were local or situated at a long distance.
Topping the list of mediums used for facilitating cyber friendships is, not surprisingly, that of Facebook with a hit rate of 80%. Lagging behind in the popularity communication states are emails (67%) and text (63%). Digging a little deeper into this research revealed that, on average, each person in the UK sends 11,315 texts each year which works out at 31 texts each and every day. To this total you can add 1.092 picture messages and 6,935 WhatsApp messages sent during a year.
Remember these figures are an average which means that some people will be sending far more - which probably explains why they do not have the time or energy to conduct face-to-face communications in their extremely busy digital life schedules. I feel that if I was hitting these target figures then I would have to cut back on less "important" activities such as sleeping and eating to create the necessary time.
Generally people's attitude towards this new phenomenon of "digi-friends" can be affected by the geographical areas in which they reside. If you live in Manchester, with its perceived affinity with rain, you are likely to have the most "digi-friends" with an average of nearly 200 such friendships. The residents of Sheffield have the highest percentage (53%) of those who would only consider staying in contact through the use of social media. If you live in Edinburgh then face-to-face is your preferred method of staying in touch. Londoners, using their favourite WhatsApp tool, send an average 28 messages a day to friends and family while Cardiff, favouring Facebook, send 16 messages and comments daily with Liverpudlians posting 8 times a day on Twitter.
The rise of digital media as the favourite means of communication has seen the development of an etiquette as to how you should behave when using this technology. BT Mobile has come up with this list of suggestions.
- Don't private message someone you don't know
- Never hide your view history from your partner
- Don't over share on Facebook
- Don't chat someone up via LinkedIn or any professional platform
- Don't look through your partner's phone
- Don't post to social media when emotional
- Don't "reply all" to a group message by accident
- Never send a text or message in anger
- Never send a text or message when drunk
- Never post to social media when drunk
- Don't put kisses on texts or emails to clients or work colleagues
- Don't gossip about people on text or social media
- Always text or message if you're going to be late
- Always call work rather than text if you are going to be off sick
- If a friend is a good friend, wish them happy birthday by text rather than Facebook message
- Never end a relationship by text or social media
- Don't ever text bad news
This list does seem extremely negative with the advice offered and could benefit from suggestions such as "Read before posting".
Not unnaturally BT Mobile, operating on the UK's biggest 4G network with free access to over five million Wi-Fi hotspots, has deals available for "digi-friends" addicts and others which start for as little as £5 a month. For more information check out http://www.btplc.com/.
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