The Decline of Face-to-Face Communication

493625298I admit I am an analog guy by background, as my age would indicate, but I fully embrace the digital age in which we live. I think social media is an incredibly powerful communications and marketing tool. Nonetheless, with some sadness I recently read an interesting article in MediaPost titled, People Prefer Social Media to Face to Face Communication.

It stopped me like a thunderbolt. Is online communications and social media in particular, really more powerful than face-to-face communication? As the article states, “Swedish furniture giant IKEA polled 12,000 people in 12 big cities around the world and found that 68% of respondents said they prefer communicating with other people online – and that includes people in their own home (the classic scenario of messaging someone in the living room from the kitchen).”

The article went on to say that based on a “survey conducted by the UK Department of Transport found that the number of visits people pay to socialize with friends has declined by a third over the last two decades, from 192 visits per year in 1995 to 136 visits in 2014. Most of the decline came in visits to other people’s homes, where the number fell from 145 to 90”. I guess the Brits want to exit home visits too (OK, that’s a cheap shot)

It made me realize that power of online communication does rule. Yet I believe there is a deep underlying problem in that reality. We know there is a major flaw in online communication, and we all know it. Online communication lacks emotion and we live in a world where body language is often far more important than words.

How often have we seen a “war of texts/emails” to justify one’s point of view when simple face-to-face communication would have solved the “problem”, which might not have been a problem at all? And how often do we misinterpret the “tone” of digital communications, reading far more or less into the meaning than was intended. That’s because online communication doesn’t come with inflection.

So here’s my 2 cents: Spend a little less time online and more face to face. You’ll see your friendships blossom, your career skyrocket, and your data charges decline. All good.

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