The art of communication

September 29, 2017

The art of communication

How often do you sit down to pen a letter, or even send a birthday card? With innovative technology being used for so many of our daily tasks (writing this column included), are we losing the art of communication? Or is it evolving and diversifying how we stay in touch?

I don’t know about you, but checking the mail is not very much fun. For within my letterbox is more often than not one of two things – bills or junk mail. Around my birthday, Christmas and Easter, I receive the occasional card from loved ones, and it brings so much joy, but as technology creeps further into our lives, the art of a handwritten card is a dying one, with well wishers opting to send a message via text, email or social media.

I’m guilty of it too, perhaps it’s a time thing (it’s much quicker to send a text when waking up in the morning, than spending all that time choosing a card, writing on it and then sending it), or perhaps it’s a money thing (cards can be costly and postal costs are rising).

But a new Australian survey has shown that sending an electronic message is perceived as a cop out, despite an overwhelming 90 per cent of survey participants saying they had done just that in the past year.

Interestingly, 84 per cent of respondents stated that they highly valued receiving a card in the mail, however only 51 percent of those surveyed had sent a card in the previous year.

Clinical psychologist Doctor Melissa Keogh says people crave more authentic experiences and meaningful connections, and this study shows that digital communications are far less likely to make someone feel special.

“The survey’s major finding was that 67 percent of people believe that receiving a card in the mail would make them feel more special than receiving a message by social media, but if they had to choose only one method of communicating, just 31 percent of people believe they would actually make the effort to send a card themselves,” she says.

The survey highlights the role of social media in our lives, and interestingly 47 per cent of respondents under 35 felt social media had a positive impact on relationships, whereas 24 per cent felt its impact was negative.

It’s an interesting debate, given it allows us to stay so easily connected to people who live far away, or who you don’t see as often, and we can stay up to date on their daily occurrences (sometimes too up to date). But I also believe it can make us lazy in connecting with people, social media tells us when it’s someone’s birthday and automates a prompt to send them a message – where is the thought in that?

And then there are emojis (of which I am an avid user), allowing us to say so much in just a few tiny pictures. No longer do we need to spill our hearts out in a love letter to rival a Mills and Boon novel, when 😘💋🌹✨❤️😍 says it all.

Birthday cards are the most popular occasion to buy a card for (76 per cent), followed by Christmas (63 per cent). More people buy Mother’s Day cards (36 per cent) than Father’s Day cards (27 per cent). Women are more likely than men to send a card for a birthday, anniversary or other occasion. Over the past year, 87 per cent of women bought a card for someone else, with men following at 75 per cent.

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