Do you rely almost entirely on texts and emails to communicate with friends? I’ve leaned towards texting and emailing in the past few years more than calling my friends, and I’m starting to accept that the benefit of efficiency comes at the loss of intimacy. I still feel close to so many of my friends, but yes, I do feel closer to friends and family when we actually speak on the phone or see each other in person.
Last night (skip to minute 21) I had the chance to chat with talk show host Jordana Green on our local CBS radio station (WCCO) about Kate Murphy’s NYT article “Do Your Friends Actually Like You?”, an article that circled Facebook and Twitter all of last week. The article focused on a study showing that it’s possible half of our friendships are not mutual.
I told Jordana that my mom read the article and immediately told me she did not have this problem of confusing her real friends and her acquaintances and couldn’t think of anyone in her life who did. She simply felt the article did not resonate for her generation. When I asked her why, she said, “I’ve always talked to my close friends on the phone.”
Indeed, I remember the giant phone cord stretched around the kitchen in many childhood memories. I knew who my mom’s close friends were as they were the ones on the other end of those calls. My mom still calls her friends or actually (gasp) answers the phone if she wants to make weekend plans with other couples or make plans with her female friends. Those “plan making calls” might morph into longer conversations, but she also purposely calls her friends with the purpose of catching up and they call her. She and her friends stay connected, often. I know my mom is on to something. Even if I only speak to some of my friends once in a while, I immediately feel closer to someone after we’ve finished a conversation.
I also told Jordana that so many of the questions I get at my friendship advice column come from women who say they are making more of the effort in a friendship. Furthermore, many letter writers report feeling insecure because despite the numerous texts and emails that fly back and forth in their social worlds, they have a hard time taking those relationships to the next level.
Now listen up, especially if you’re one of my friends on the receiving end of my emails and texts: I know that we are all super busy and talking on the phone rather than texting falls somewhere between time-consuming and impossible. I would, however, like to try harder to keep texts and emails to plan making and quick quips and occasional photos. Let’s save our real chats for voice-to-voice if not face-to-face interactions. Let’s at least try harder to do so!
Do you feel closer to the friends you speak to on the phone?