There are so many ways to reach out to and stay in touch with friends and family today, yet somehow, it’s common to feel less connected than ever, even with so many friends just a click away.
With headlines about increasing loneliness a common theme, along with the constant bombardment of bad news from social media feeds and the 24-hour news cycle, many people now suffer from a new ‘condition’ that stems from the effects of online time.
“Compassion fatigue,” is a term now used to describe when continuous online connection causes someone to shut down emotionally—leading them to communicate via emojis more often than taking the time to share their true emotions.
A new study by Hallmark shows that in the digital age, people are craving authentic connections, and with texts and social posts being such a common, everyday occurrence, a greeting card stands out as a more meaningful way to communicate. In fact, consumers agree they would prefer a card over a text with the same message.
And, while people are more likely to send or receive cards for a specific occasion, receiving a card just because or for an unexpected moment is even more impactful. Surprisingly, the study also found that while millennials grew up during the technological revolution, they were the most likely to find expressing their feelings by putting pen to card as a meaningful way to strengthen a relationship.
“Social media networks could be useful for connecting with many, many people, oftentimes it’s people that we don’t know in real life,” said Dr. Vania Manipod. “And it’s a way that people utilize to keep in touch, keep up with news. But I do want to emphasize that those types of experiences are more passive and fleeting. What was found in the study is that we as humans desire more of those deeper, meaningful, impactful connections. So when it comes to what we desire more as humans, is more meaningful, it’s truly quality over quantity in a way that social media cannot match.”
Here’s more from our conversation:
MG: Can you tell us a little more about what compassion fatigue is and how do to counter it?
DM: Compassionate fatigue is a depletion of sympathy and concern that can occur over time. So what happens is that when we’re constantly inundated with these negative heart wrenching stories, especially what we see in the media and the news, that could lead us to start to put up barriers and disconnect ourselves emotionally from others and other’s experiences. However, I do want to emphasize that research has shown there’s ways to combat compassion fatigue, and that’s by investing more time in these positive human connections and these strong personal relationships we have because that can boost our relationships and ultimately increase happiness.
MG: You mentioned the study by Hallmark earlier. You said it found the impact of more authentic connections. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the other findings of that study?
DM: Right. So what the study found was that consumers agree that greeting cards provide a meaningful touch point and conveys emotions and things that we want to say to others that perhaps we can’t find the words for. Interestingly, what the study found was that if consumers of all ages were given the option of either receiving a text message or a greeting card that conveyed the exact same message, they preferred receiving a greeting card and found it more meaningful. And interestingly, millennials of all age groups found it to be especially more meaningful when they received a greeting card, even though they grew up in this digital age.
Dr. Manipod’s three tips for avoiding compassion fatigue and staying connected in real life:
- Set boundaries with social media because social media in excess has been linked to negative emotions such as increased anxiety, increased depression, and increased loneliness. So it’s really important for us to learn to set boundaries.
- Because setting boundaries on social media could be difficult for some people, I would highly recommend social media detoxes, which is something I’ve done for myself as well. That can really give us a new perspective.
- Utilize time away from social media to invest in existing relationships and connections that we have. Simple gestures such as making a phone call instead of sending a text message; or going to the store and picking up a handwritten card and writing a message. Those types of things that show that we went above and beyond truly shows others that we care and can strengthen our relationship and increase happiness.
See more of our discussion below.
About Our Guest:
Dr. Vania Manipod is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology & Psychiatry in general psychiatry. Dr. Manipod has an international following surrounding the plight to reduce the stigma of mental illness, particularly through her blog, Freud & Fashion. She speaks nationally on topics such as physician burnout, traumatic brain injury, and osteopathic principles and psychiatry.