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Computer-Mediated Communication Aspects and Influences Essay


Introduction

Communication plays an important role in influencing human development. It allows people to interact with each other and experience different cultures. Numerous platforms are used to convey information, most of which are influenced by cultural identities (Monaghan, Goodman & Robinson, 2012). Studies have established that cultural patterns have a huge influence on different communication styles used across the world.

Over the years, communication has been characterized by direct human interaction and intercultural exchanges. However, the birth of the internet and technological advancement has changed interpersonal and intercultural communication (Wood, 2011). The development of computers and the ease of internet’s accessibility have played a vital role in improving the efficiency of communication.

The two factors resulted in the development of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC). CMC refers to interpersonal and intercultural communication that involves the use of technological devices that support different forms of communication (Wood, 2012). Technological tools used in CMC include computers, internet-enabled phones, and tablets among others. Examples of communication formats supported by these devices include text messaging, instant messaging, chat rooms, and video conferencing. These forms of communication are accessible through social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Google Circles, and Yahoo (Wood, 2012).

Studies have established that CMC has changed the style of communication because more people are incorporating technology into their daily routines. CMC is different from traditional face-to-face communication in various ways. CMC has pushed interaction between people to a higher level, and it has eliminated the time and space limitations commonly associated with offline communication (Monaghan et al., 2012). Online communication increases the efficiency of human contact, reduces the level of human interaction, and eliminates the therapeutic effect of face-to-face communication.

Discussion

Since the beginning of the century, there have been numerous technological advancements in the field of communication. Factors such as globalization, population growth, unemployment rates, and advancements in the field of education have increased demand for technology, especially in the field of communication (Barnes, 2002).

People possess a desire to interact at a higher level because of limited time and time space for face-to-face communication. The internet has made the world a global village and has created numerous opportunities for people across the world. In the contemporary society, people find most of the information they need on the internet. Over the years, a lot of content has been generated in order to cater for the ever-increasing number of internet users (Barnes, 2002).

Studies have established that the number of people using the internet all over the world has been increasing at a high rate every year. People spend a lot of time online doing various things that include research and communication (Wood, 2012). Experts argue that people are becoming overly dependent on technology and consequently, eliminate the need for human contact.

Computer-mediated communication

Online communication influences several factors that affect interpersonal and intercultural interaction. Examples of differences between online and offline communication involve the various ways people use to build relationships, create impressions, deceive others, perceive teamwork, and respond to feedback (Monaghan et al., 2012).

CMC experts argue that online communication also differs from offline interaction in terms of the relation that exists when things occur at the same time and remain connected for a long period. A good example is communication through instant messaging and emails. Instant messaging involves communication between two people for a short period (Wood, 2011).

The information shared in such a conversation gets lost as soon as the dialogue box is closed, thus effecting the efficiency of the interaction. On the other hand, communication through emails is more effective because the messages can be saved and read later after the end of a conversation (Kappas & Kramer, 2011). Communication through email is effective because of the ability to save messages for future reference. The level of interaction through emails is higher compared to that of instant messaging. However, it lacks the depth that is experienced in face-to-face interaction (Barnes, 2002).

Another characteristic feature of CMC that affects interpersonal and intercultural interaction is lack of a code of conduct. There is no specified code of conduct for people who use online communication (Monaghan et al., 2012). People are free to do anything because of their anonymity, and they can easily get away with anything. CMC experts argue that this element has contributed to the development of negativity with regard to online communication because of factors such as insecurity of internet users caused by the threat of cyber terrorism and bullying.

According to research, online communicators ignore people’s age, gender, sexuality, religion, age and race when interacting (Wright & Webb, 2011). Many people have been victimized through online communication due to their identity based on religion, gender, sexuality, and origin. Online communicators are also fond of using vulgar language. Vulgarity has been encouraged by the fact that it is very hard to establish the real identity of users in a virtual world (Flichy, 2004).

In face-to-face communication, it is hard for people to disregard the code of conduct because of the repercussions associated with vulgarity. Despite the existence of negative attitudes towards online communication, people in the contemporary society prefer it to offline communication. Online communication helps to eliminate limitations such as distance, which compromise the ability to interact effectively through offline communication (Wood, 2012). It allows people to interact and stay connected in various parts of the world.

Studies have also established that CMC encourages people to disclose their personal information easily compared to offline communication. Interpersonal relationships are more open in online communication compared to face-to-face interaction (Wright & Webb, 2011). The main reason for this is the people’s ability to disclose essential information easily.

Experts argue that this element plays a crucial role in building and maintaining relationships. CMC experts further argue that people create better first impressions through online communication in relation to offline interaction. The development of the internet has improved the efficiency of interpersonal and intercultural communication (Kappas & Kramer, 2011). The number of people who have access to the internet and technological devices such as phones and computers is rapidly growing across the world.

Studies have established that people are increasingly using digital media to communicate. The online community continues to expand every year. People have learned effective ways of managing interactions, forming impressions, and building relationships in the virtual world (Wood, 2011). Numerous studies have been conducted to establish the difference in experiences between online and offline communications. One of the main elements of online communication studied is the paralinguistic features.

The first paralinguistic feature of online communication is emoticons, which refer to a representation of facial expressions such as a smile or frown (Kappas & Kramer, 2011). Emoticons are created by typing a sequence of characters when writing a mail, texting or sending an instant message in chat rooms. The disadvantage of this element is that it is easy for one to interpret an expression wrongly (Wright & Webb, 2011).

For example, a user can type an emoticon showing they are enjoying a conversation even though they are bored and wish to end it. In online communication, people do not see each other face-to-face. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the other person’s reaction to a conversation (Wood, 2011).

The second element of online communication examined was the practicability of turn-taking during conversations. Offline communication is characterized by taking turns in talking as well as listening (Monaghan et al., 2012). Turn taking makes offline conversations dynamic, exhilarating, and pleasurable. Responses in offline communication are instantaneous, charming and allow everyone to understand the course of a conversation by observing important communication cues such as body language and posture.

In online communication, this element applies differently because people do not interact physically (Lustig & Koester, 2005). In addition, it takes longer for someone to get a response if they are not using instant messaging services. For example, communication through email is unreliable in cases where someone needs a quick response.

Interaction through instant messaging and chat rooms can be unreliable at times because some users take time to reply. Certain people are naturally slow and take a lot of time to formulate what to say (Lustig & Koester, 2005). Such responses are often well thought out, and thus lower the probability of getting the truth. In one-on-one conversations, people do not have much time to consider the answers they give. Thus, they have a higher chance of telling the truth (Kappas & Kramer, 2011).

Studies have established that CMC is profoundly influenced by the mode of communication and the immediate environment. In contemporary society, online communication is used in professional, social, educational, political, and economic environments (Wood, 2011). All these situations have their unique style of communication that influences the way people interact. Presentation of political information is different from the presentation of financial information. Different styles of communication require varied technological devices.

Therefore, it is imperative to understand a discipline before choosing a form of communication to use (Flichy, 2004). Some of the common forms of online communication used include e-mails, video clips, audios, blogs, instant messaging, as well as social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. For example, most television channels and radio stations use Facebook and Twitter for conveying messages to people.

Communication through social media is different from watching television because in the case of TV, viewers see those who present news and host different programs (Kappas & Kramer, 2011). Media houses and major dailies across the world have websites through which people access news and other content.

Culture and communication

At the beginning of the 21st Century, most parts of the world had not been exposed to the internet and technological devices such as computers. Communication was only through the conventional face-to-face interaction (Lustig & Koester, 2005). People had a great chance of experiencing different cultures because they had to interact physically. The traditional forms of communication helped people to develop individual awareness concerning the differences that existed among cultures.

Psychologists argue that such an opportunity had a therapeutic effect on people because they were able to have new experiences and expand their knowledge through interaction (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2012). Cultural beliefs and norms influenced the thinking and communication styles of different communities.

For example, in Africa, people used various forms of communication to convey specific messages. People in ancient African cultures conveyed information through methods such as singing, smoke, and drumming. If people saw smoke coming from a particular place, they automatically knew that someone was conveying a certain message (Lustig & Koester, 2005). People would gather at the source of the smoke and listen to the news. Such gatherings provided people with an opportunity to interact.

Cultural practices dictate the style of communication that people use. Cultural beliefs are concepts that people assume to be true about their community and the world (Wood, 2011). Beliefs of one community could be different from those of others. Cultural beliefs dictate crucial elements in societies such as interpersonal interaction and communication.

For a long time, people interacted and communicated according to what their culture considered right and respectful. Cultural beliefs are closely connected to standards, which refer to the expectations that people have in regard to demeanour (Lustig & Koester, 2005). Standards vary from one cultural group to another depending on their social practices. For example, the expectations that people have regarding the behaviour of old and young people are different across various cultures around the world.

In most African and Asian countries, respect for the old is more valuable compared to certain cultures in the United States. Old people in the society play a crucial role of educating the young about their history, how they should do certain things and other essential things about life (Samovar et al., 2012). However, technological advancements have eliminated this important role of older people because this information can now be accessed over the internet.

Studies have established that cultural practices influence communication by dictating the manner and level of human interaction (Lustig & Koester, 2005). Various things such as sports, food, music, agriculture, and dressing define the culture of communities. For example, basketball is a popular sport in the United States compared to other parts of the world. It is considered as one of the main elements of the American culture. This game brings people together and encourages interaction in the United States than everywhere else.

The basketball history has shaped the communication style of Americans in a way that other people consider controversial. In contemporary society, people follow games over the internet and televisions, thus limiting the chances of physical interaction (Lustig & Koester, 2005). People enjoy many benefits through one-on-one interaction. Therefore, cultural patterns have a tremendous impact on the way communities are likely to interact (Samovar et al., 2012). CMC has shifted the style of intercultural communication to a lower level because people do not interact physically.

Culture also influences the development of interpersonal communication patterns. Communities develop certain systems of communication that align to their culture. The systems, which form the communication patterns, represent the manner in which different groups within a cultural setup should relate and interact with each other (Lustig & Koester, 2005). Some of the groups represented by the codes include parents, siblings, teachers, religious leaders, figures of authority, friends, and neighbors among others.

Experts argue that cultural differences often influence the development of communication patterns. The models often describe the verbal and non-verbal forms of communication used in every culture (Lustig & Koester, 2005). The most notable differences in the way different cultures develop their interpersonal communication patterns relate to non-verbal systems.

Different cultures describe non-verbal systems such as the use of space, gestures, facial expressions, touch, walking style and posture differently (Samovar et al., 2012). Definitions for these elements are crucial because they help to maintain a structure through which societies share its practices and values with subsequent generations.

Conclusion

Interpersonal and intercultural communication in contemporary society has changed tremendously. Some of the contributing factors to this phenomenon include globalization, advancement of education and high unemployment rates. Globalization has created demand for technology, while unemployment rates have pushed people into being more innovative as the need to tap on the expanding online community increases. Online communication is different from offline communication in various ways.

For example, online communication is more efficient and eliminates the limitations of distance commonly associated with face-to-face communication. However, the level of interpersonal and intercultural interaction is low in online communication. Online communication has increased the efficiency of human contact and reduced the level of human interaction, which has eliminated the therapeutic effect of face-to-face communication.

People enjoy many benefits through one-on-one interaction. Culture also influences the development of interpersonal communication patterns. Experts argue that cultural differences often influence the development of communication patterns. Cultural practices dictate the style of communication that people use.

References

Barnes, S. B. (2002). Computer-Mediated Communication: Human-To-Human Communication across the Internet. San Francisco: Allyn & Bacon.

Flichy, P. (2004). Dynamics of Modern Communication: The Shaping and Impact of new Communication Technologies. California: SAGE.

Kappas, A., & Kramer, N. C. (2011). Face-To-Face Communication over the Internet: Emotions in a Web of Culture, Language, and Technology. Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press.

Lustig, M.W., & Koester, J. (2005). Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures. Boston: California State University.

Monaghan, L., Goodman, J. E., & Robinson, J. M. (2012). A cultural Approach to Interpersonal Communication: Essential Readings. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Samovar, L., Porter, R., & McDaniel, E. (2012). Communication between Cultures. Boston: California University Press.

Wood, J. (2011). Communication in Our Lives. New York: Cengage Learning.

Wood, J. (2012). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. New York: Cengage Learning.

Wright, K. B., & Webb, L. M. (2011). Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships. California: Peter Lang.

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