i Assistant Editor's Letter: Pick up the phone and talk to your relatives, before you have in-laws too!


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The Independent Online


When my Best Man revealed on Tuesday he was getting married, the inevitable cheers went up on a round-robin email. Barely had my fingers left the keyboard, my own congratulatory message fired off,  when the inevitable ribbings of “about time”, “who’d marry you” and various other unprintable “jokes” came gushing forth.

Cue three days of dubious banter – all in good jest, you understand, and all in cyberspace.

It reminded me of a couple of news items this week. First was a study which found that just 45 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women use the phone to stay in touch with relatives. If you also consider the 26 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women who stay in touch with a personal visit, it means about a third of people rely on texts and email.

Coupled with yesterday’s news that seven million adults have never been online, it gives a worrying picture of how families are drifting apart. I have a hard enough time staying in contact with friends – and I am on email 24 hours a day, so imagine how lonely it can be for those with age no longer on their side. There is a whole generation, evidently including my own, for which the spoken word has become a lost art – it’s not news that we don’t pick up the phone any more. It has become far easier to hide behind technology, where you can make a considered response or execute a pre-planned attack.

So, my advice to Charlie on his upcoming nuptials? Pick up the phone to your relatives now – soon there will be a mother-in-law to deal with as well!

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri