Mal Fletcher comments on changing media habits in the UK.

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Partly it's down to the rise in the number of people screening their incoming calls, using number ID apps and, of course, voicemail. If you call someone, there's a good chance you'll end up speaking to a voice mailbox, which is akin to speaking to a robot.

After you struggle to express yourself in a cogent way within the allotted time limit, you know there's no guarantee that your message will ever be heard, much less replied to.

So, why bother putting yourself through all that misery and risking rejection, when you can send a quick text message via Whatsapp?

From the recipient's side of the equation, a voice mail message normally leaves only one option for responding - a return call. The chances are you'll then wind up with the farcical situation in which one person is chasing another, who is chasing them.

What's more, phone calls, whilst they can be intimate, are quite clumsy. You can't see your interlocutor, so you're robbed of the powerful visual cues we rely upon in normal conversation. Reading another person's biometric signals is an irreplaceable window into their emotions.

On the phone, you don't get much time to think through your responses, either. You certainly don't have an opportunity to edit something once it's been said. With texts and messaging, though you lack the vocal input, you at least have a few editing and pacing options.

Of course, texting requires that you completely tune out your physical environment, which can be dangerous. Psychologists have, in characteristically colourful form, taken to calling this Absent Presence. It's clinical speak for "the elevator's working, but it doesn't go all the way to the top floor".

Absent presence was the prime motivator behind the decision of at least one US civic authority to pass a law prohibiting people from walking the streets while reading from their phones.

The other point of interest in the Ofcom study is just how quickly Brits have fallen out of love with television. Even the mighty BBC recently admitted that it urgently needs to address a problem with falling audience share, as increasing numbers of people up sticks for Netflix, Amazon Prime and other online broadcasters.

People are shifting their allegiances in part because the Beeb, for all its reputation for quality drama and entertainment, finds it hard as a public broadcaster to compete with the deep pockets of online corporate platforms.

And Netflix began pouring money into its product at just the right time, as Apple, Samsung and others were truly putting the "smart" into smartphone.

Time will tell how long our love affair with the mobile phone will continue. The only reason new techs like Augmented Reality a la Google Glass haven't taken off is that we're still too bewitched by our phones.

We're still marvelling at how many different functions we can carry out using what looks like little more than a piece of glass. Inevitably, the time will come when the cache of phones will diminish - the cool factor will eventually shift to something else. Just as it has for TV and radio before that.

The history of human communication media has always been about fluidity. It seems always to follow a three-phase cycle.