April 11, 2012, 12:31 PM —
Psychologists, sociologists, career advisors and etiquette gurus give short shrift to the dozens of ways the Internet savvy can "talk" and even develop lasting, effective relationships without ever being in the same room or even holding a conversation in real time with the other person.
Social-networking advocates counter that they're able to keep in touch with far more people using the Internet, at least partly because each person in a conversation can participate when, where and in whatever circumstances he or she likes.
Holding all those conversations synchronously – in person or via phone – is harder to schedule and unnecessary for most things.
Stressful or very personal topics – hiring, firing, proposing marriage, proposing business, rejecting either relationships or business (and surprise parties) – are still best handled synchronously and in person, however.
Now science is coming down on the side of the Internet.
Even the most impersonal digital means of contact delivers many of the same benefits as phone conversations or F2F meetups according to a newly published study from a clinical psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley.
Even profoundly depressed patients often reported feeling reassured, connected and cared for after receiving text messages from therapists, friends or others who appear concerned about their welfare according to research published this month by Adrian Aquilera, an assistant professor in Berkeley's School of Social Welfare.