Now that we’re in the thick of the holiday season, a lot of us are reflecting on our year and our relationships with our closest friends and family. We frequently rely on digital forms of communication to connect with people – whether it be text, email or social media. But how do these technologies shape our interactions? And are they the best way to interact with our loved ones?
With the help of Hershey’s KISSES DELUXE, as part of their upcoming holiday campaign, we decided to dig a little deeper.
What we found was pretty surprising. 37% of Americans (including 69% of Millennials) confessing to checking their phones at Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, 81% of Americans believe holiday gatherings were more meaningful before smartphones*. Ironically, although we’re more ‘connected’ than ever before, technology has become a barrier to meaningful connection and communication.
How did digital technology, one of the greatest communication innovations of the last century, get to be such a barrier to real communication? Quite simply, while technology is often helpful, it’s also addicting.
It’s no surprise that having someone “like” your photo, or receiving good news over email is rewarding. It feels good, so like other reinforcers it encourages us to repeat the behavior.
The more insidious part, though, is that the reinforcement is variable. You never know when an important email will show up in your inbox, or an interesting post will come in through social media. So you keep checking again and again, hoping something will show up. This unpredictability makes technology even more addicting, and leads us to ignore the friend or family member right in front of us.
Further, while digital communication is great for staying in touch, it’s not so helpful in communicating our deeper or more sincere emotions. And physical interactions pack a more powerful emotional punch: if we are upset or nervous, voice interactions are much better than text at calming and soothing us, and reducing stress hormones. Further, digital communications are often misconstrued. 84% have misread someone’s emotions over text message, and 59% do so frequently*.
So this holiday season, make sure to get offline. If you can’t spend time in person with the people you love, at least pick up the phone and give them a call. It will leave a bigger and more lasting impact than a text or tweet ever could.
For inspiration, check out how Hershey’s KISSES DELUXE helped one family “Say More” this holiday season and honor their deserving mother at www.KissesDeluxe.com.
*The Hershey’s KISSES Deluxe Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ between September 25th and September 30th, 2015, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population.