Computers and electronic networks have revolutionized communication. “Computer-mediated communication (CMC) was initially seen as a tool for accessing information, but it has quickly become an integral tool for human interaction” (Beebe, Beebe, Redmond, 2008, 358). Without having to bother with stamps, envelopes, and the delay in postal mail or ‘snail mail’ as it is more commonly referred too, millions of people have interacted via e-mail and continue to do so. Using computers we are able to reach the entire world without moving out from our homes.
We are also capable of starting computer-mediated communication with strange and new people in chat rooms and dating services without feeling emotionally and physically uncomfortable or stressed. Long-distance collaboration is a fact of life for an increasing number of workers. More relationships are being formed and maintained online than ever before, including supplier/purchaser relationships, student-teacher relationships, and even collaboration between employees of the same company.
More relationships are being enhanced by CMC and contributing to face-to-face relationships. As we meet people we often send out a friend request via Facebook to keep in touch whereas we previously may have exchanged numbers but might not have utilized them. With Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, we are communicating more with one another and getting a chance to know people further through these mediums and deciding if we want to pursue relationships whether for friendship or dating. Our social network is enhanced by the convenience that text messaging, email…” (Beebe, Beebe, Redmond, 2008, 365) and social networks provide. On the other hand, computer-mediated interaction can isolate us from the real world if we as individuals allow it. “Internet addiction….. is a phrase used to describe the dark side of Internet use: devoting endless hours to surfing the Net, interacting in chat rooms, or gaming” (Beebe, Beebe, Redmond, 2008, 367).
It brings us to the cyber space where truth and reality can be created by someone. It increases the probability of incorrect and fake information. It can create some aspects of cultural misunderstandings and emotional distress because of greater self-disclosure. Unlike face–to-face or audio communication, the medium in Computer-Mediated Communication is primarily textual. There are no nonverbal cues to embellish meaning or social context cues regarding gender, age, or status.
Not only can the absence of cues hamper communication efficiency, but it seems to create a semblance of anonymity and lack of awareness of the social context. These conditions, in turn, have been held responsible for a perceived higher incidence of rude, offensive, and uninhibited behavior. Reference: Beebe, S. A. , Beebe, S. J. , and Redmond, M. V. (2008). Interpersonal Communication: Relating to Others (5th edition). Boston: Pearson