TERESA HANSEN   Editor in chief

At the risk of revealing my age, I’m admitting that using any social media channel beyond texting challenges me. I remember when I didn’t have a computer on my desk, email was not available and fax machines were the fastest communications technology around. As a teenager, I worked at my dad’s business where he used a ticker-tape machine to keep up with commodity prices and communicated with his employees via a Motorola radio in his office and the business’s vehicles. Those were the high-tech communication tools of the time.

If those tools are around today, they are probably in someone’s junk room or a museum. It’s hard to imagine doing business or even going about daily life with yesterday’s technology.

A recent study puts in perspective how communication technology has changed. www.vouchercloud.net, which is not a company but a free mobile app, surveyed 2,786 American adults who had been in a co-habiting relationship for at least one year and both they and their partners were employed full-time. Those surveyed were asked whether they used digital forms of communication, such as texts, emails and messages, to communicate with their partner during a typical day. Some 93 percent said “yes,” and only 7 percent said they did not. Those who responded yes said they text most—11 times a day. Email came in a close second—10 times a day. Direct messaging through social media was not far behind at eight messages a day. Snapchats, tweets and wall posts also made the list, used four times, three times and once each day, respectively. The survey also asked the 93 percent how many face-to-face conversations they had with their partners each day. The answer: five.

These results represent the average American couple, according to the study. I don’t fully agree with that assumption because the survey was conducted via email, which I believe means these couples represent a subset of couples who could be more connected than average. Of course, most full-time employees email. Whether these couples are average or merely near average, the survey results make one thing clear: Digital communication via all social media channels is important. If you aren’t using them in your business and personal life, you’re a dinosaur.

POWERGRID International has reported on social media use at utilities, and we will continue to do so. We know utilities, the vendors who support them and others in the industry are adding social media to their communication channels with customers and employees. Social media is a heavyweight tool that makes our lives easier and more efficient. We all must learn to use these channels or we’ll be talking only to ourselves soon—and we all know what others think about #PeopleWhoTalkToThemselves.

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