A new study by Hallmark shows that in a digital age, people are craving authentic connections and with texts and social media being a common everyday occurrence, a greeting card stands out as a more meaningful way to communicate among other things. In fact, most consumers agree that they would prefer a card over a text message regardless of their age. We wanted to find out more about the power of these actions and how we can manage these personal connections in an age of instant gratification. We chatted with psychiatrist, Dr. Vania Manipod to find out more about this and how we can achieve this balance.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What are the benefits of using the digital tools that we have to stay connected especially when our lives cause us to be on constant on the go mode?
DR. VANIA MANIPOD: Social networks can be useful to some extent as we use it to keep up with people’s lives, because they are posting what they are up to. People also rely on it to keep them up to date on news; however, I want to emphasize that these types of experiences are a lot more passive and fleeting. The latest survey results found that as humans, we tend to desire more of those deeper meaningful more impactful connections with others. So when it comes to fostering these types of relationships, it’s truly quality over quantity in a way that social media can’t match.
AM: Why do these digital tools become a barrier to communication?
DR. VM: Social media is designed that we spend as much time as possible on it. Even the way that we communicate is via text message or using instant messenger. That’s meant to make it easier for us with one click of the button; however, it’s truly the more deeper meaningful gestures that are simple like just making a phone call – which goes above and beyond in taking time out of our busy daily lives to foster these connections. For example, making that phone call to someone that you haven’t talked to in awhile instead of sending a text message, inviting them to lunch or sending them a handwritten card, these are gestures that have a lot more meaning and foster these connections. Ultimately, it increases happiness.
AM: With social media as well as a 24-hour news cycle, that is difficult to turn off, how does this actually hamper positive communications that we want to have with others?
DR. VM: What’s happening is that it gives us this illusion and it makes us want to have more of an instant gratification. So when we get that like, we like when that action happens or that someone gave us a comment. That sends a positive reinforcement in our brains that are kind of like gambling. When you see the sounds and hear the lights, it makes you feel very excited and gratified, but those things are very short lived. Ultimately, those don’t foster the deeper and emotional connections that we want with people. So that’s why I suggest, social media in moderation only – social media detox is also great because it gives us a different perspective and makes us realize that spending so much time on social media could be making someone feel lonely, isolated and depressed. So social media in moderation, social media detox - setting boundaries around it, is so important.
AM: When we can’t connect in person with the people that we care about, do you have any tips on how we can keep it personal – when it is still digital?
DR. VM: Well, the survey results found that when given the option (with consumers at all ages), receiving a text message or a greeting card that had the exact same message, they found it to be much more meaningful and impactful. Millennials interestingly enough, who we know are so used to communicating digitally – they found that receiving a card was much more meaningful and made them feel more noticed. It’s as simple as that in addition to reaching out and making gestures that show that you took the time to show them that you cared.
AM: With the summer coming to an end, the fall makes us think about gatherings where we come together and of course, the holiday season. What are ways that we can ensure that we keep connected in a healthy way. You just mentioned specifically when we’re not in person that we can send a hand written note or card – how do we keep the communications healthy with people that we care about whether it’s a text or a card?
DR. VM: That would be trying to reach out to them, sending them a greeting card and not just on a holiday or a birthday when it is expected. Doing it just because is nice as the survey also shows that even though we do send cards during expected times, the ones that are sent just because have been received as more meaningful. This is why, we encourage people to not just do this during the big occasions, but even spontaneously because it boosts your relationships with people and ultimately boosts happiness.
AM: In terms of the psychological connection, how do you connect with people that are of a different age like your niece versus your grandparents.
DR. VM: Again, it’s about going above and beyond. I think that my niece would definitely be into her emojis and all that, but it’s about spending more time with them. Whether it’s your grandparents or little niece. It’s about spending time and that shows that you are investing in the relationships, connecting with them on a deeper level and you’re taking the time to build upon these relationships that already exist.
AM: For ourselves, when we’re taking a break from digital media do you have tips or suggestions that we can do for escapism from these moment by moment interactions?
DR. VM: There are 3 tips that I would suggest to keep in mind. 1. Set boundaries with social media. Make sure that no one has their phones when they go out to dinner and that people are having conversations. 2. Having a social media detox because it’s not until we’re away from it that we realize how much time we spend on social media that can help change our perspective and ultimately lead to the 3rd tip which is to invest more time into fostering and nurturing our personal connections that already exist. This leads to increased happiness and decreased happiness.
Read the latest issue of Athleisure Mag.