For last couple of years, I have been silently running little social experiments during important Indian festivals. It’s dead simple — I just wish my contacts. Who doesn’t, you say? But here’s the catch: I wish them by their name. So instead of sending someone a half-assed forwarded message, I actually type text into the message box and hit send. For instance, if you are Mr. A, I would send you something along the lines of “Happy New Year, Mr. A!” And some occasional “How are you?”
The purpose is simple: I wanted to see who of my friends reply back with typed-text and who with forwarded messages. Why? With share buttons everywhere and apps creating least friction to share content, I wanted to see whether the human touch is really being lost somewhere. I also wanted to see if the presence of someone’s name in the message gives them any push to reciprocate.
So this new year, I sent out 32 messages to the people whom I contacted in last three months (in WhatsApp). This post is just quickie about the results when analyzed. Please note that I do not mean to reduce or lower anyone just because they replied with forwarded messages. They might be busy when they replied, or may be they found that forwarded messages better expressed their views than they would with their own words — I simply do not know the condition they were operating in.
I would try not to use too much technical terms like cross-sectional study (which it is, though!). Rather, I would try to explain the implications.
More than three-fourths of the people I contacted were male. This is pretty obvious since my peer circle contsists of mostly my school/college friends, colleagues (both dominated by male), and my relatives. Never been a ladies man, you see!
Of the 32 contacts I sent messages to, 30 of them replied. While 57% of the male respondents replied with typed-text, the corresponding number for females was higher — at 72%. Not a ladies man but they listen when I talk!
Among the respondents, about 16% are relatively new contacts. My contacts are highly dominated by people whom I have known for 5-10 years (44%). I made some truly good friends during this time when I was posted outside my hometown.
About one-fifth of the respondents I have known for more than 10 years. I think I am moderately happy with this number since I am still in touch with people whom I met long time ago. However I do believe there is more room for improvement.
The above chart also shows that the study has no selection bias.
Now, here is an interesting data — something that I originally wanted to find out. As the relations aged, more people replied with text. 25% of the people whom I have known for less than an year, responded with typed-text. This number shows a steep rise for 1-5 years (at 50%) and 5-10 years (at 61%). Those whom I have known for more than 10 years showed more love — 71% of them replied with text, not with forwarded messages. This makes me realise why long-term relationships are so valuable.
“The result of long-term relationships is better and better quality, and lower and lower costs.” ~ W. Edwards Deming
In the end, it was blissful to connect with all these people. Data and analysis aside, it’s always important to really “talk” to the other person. Despite our busy schedules and one-touch-to-share mechanisms, real human connection can still be fostered.