Why we ignore texts and emails

A Pew survey found that 90 percent of cellphone owners “frequently” carry their phone with them, and 76 percent say they turn their phone off “rarely” or “never.” In one small 2015 study, young adults checked their phones an average of 85 times a day.

In 2015, the average American was receiving 88 business emails per day, according to the market research firm Radicati, but only sending 34 business emails per day.

In Baron’s survey, people also mentioned feeling controlled by their phones—bemoaning how dependent they were on the devices, and how the constant connectivity made them feel obligated to respond.

But texts and emails don’t create as big of an obligation as phone calls, or a face-to-face conversation. When young adults are interviewed about why they don’t like making phone calls, they cite a distaste for how “invasive” they are, and a reluctance to place that burden on someone else. Written instant messages create a smokescreen of plausible deniability if someone doesn’t feel like responding, which can be relieving for the hider, and frustrating for the seeker.

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