Saturday, February 13, 2010

What is CMC?




How Does CMC Affect Interpersonal Communication?

Computer-mediated communication is the way in which we communicate through computers. The computer is the vessel in which the communication takes place. CMC occurs through a network of computers whether that is in a chat room, instant message, or email. A relationship could start because of CMC. Sometimes CMC can be a way for people to become comfortable with someone before they actually meet.

The article, “Interpersonal Interaction in Computer-Mediated Communication by Junghyun Kim discusses what CMC means and how it affects interpersonal communication. According to Kim, “Computer-mediated communication – CMC, means communication mediated by machine, such as a computer. CMC is a relatively indirect way of interaction, compared to FtF [Face-to-Face] communication. CMC studies are text based rather than based on visual or verbal communication channels” (pg. 4). CMC can be categorized into three perspectives. They include: impersonal, personal and hyper personal interpersonal interaction, and evaluated. CMC affects the way we see other people. For example, on Facebook someone may list their favorite things, but they don’t list their least favorite things so you get a sense of falsehood about the person. You might feel like you know them because they talk about themselves but they are really giving off a false front-stage because you don’t really know who they.


When deciding whether you are attracted to someone you considered their personal qualities. CMC alters the way we see other people. Someone might seem really attractive to you when you are instant messaging or emailing but in reality they may not be who you think they are at all. CMC changes interpersonal communication a lot. People use to meet for the first time face-to-face and today people use websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Match.com, JDate, and EHarmony to find and meet people. Before college many people met their roommates for the first time on Facebook.


Texts, instant messages, and emails are a good way to see if you have things in common with someone before you meet them. A lot of people found it helpful to talk to their roommate(s) on Facebook before school starts so they know what they are like. Computer-mediated communication makes it possible for roommates to discuss who is bringing what to school. Computer-medaited communication made it so niether person brought a microwave or a refrigerator. If CMC didn't exist the changes of a mistake are much higher. Computer- mediated communication allows you to communicate with people you wouldn’t have otherwise communicated with. That poses the question do you really understand someone after CMC. It is impossible to fully understand someone through a text, instant message, or an email but it is a quick way to communicate.


Computer-mediated communication is like the summary for a television show in the TV guide. It gives you a general sense about what something or someone is going to be like, but you can’t fully understand who they are until communicating Face-to-Face. CMC is a good way of hiding your insecurities when dealing with attraction. If you have a quality you don’t admire about yourself physically and you don’t want people to notice you computer-mediated communication allows you to be yourself with out worrying what people think about your looks.


According to Kim, “Computer-mediated interpersonal communication means person-to-person interaction where the computer has been interposed to transcend the limitations of time and space.” In his article Kim also states, “Interpersonal communication refers to dyadic interaction that takes the form of verbal and nonverbal exchanges between two (or a small group of) individuals, consciously aware of each other, usual interacting in same time and space.” Computer-mediated communication has added on to interpersonal communication in many ways especially when dealing with attraction. Someone might become attracted to you because of the way you present your self through an email, text message or an instant message.

Computer-mediated communication can be good and bad. “CMC also lacks shared social norms and standards, which leads users to be more aggressive and impulsive and could lead to uninhibited behaviors” (pg. 6) Basically Kim is saying that computer-mediated interpersonal communication can create a sense of falsehood. For example, in class we discussed the various ways you can be attracted to a person well that changes when a computer is involved. The author mentioned how when dealing with CMC you can’t get an understand their social status or their grouping. You might be able to tell that someone might be motivated and have the same goals as you, but if the information comes through a computer you can never really be sure. Sometimes there can be misunderstands when it comes the Computer-mediated communication because no matter what face-to-face communication is the best way for people to fully communication and get an understanding in any given situation. A good “interpersonal characteristic of CMC is [that] mediated interpersonal communication can be more efficient for work-related interactions among people” (pg. 6). This prevents people from becoming to distracted work.


Another question that Kim raises is how much “verbal expressions or social cues” really affect interpersonal communication and the relationships we engage in versus computer-mediated Communication. There is a possibility that sometimes we are more real via text or email because we don’t feel any face-to-face pressure. For example, you could (not that you should) ask somebody out or break up with someone via text (The Taylor Swift Paradox). The lines have blurred between what is appropriate for face-to-face communication versus computer-mediated communication. CMC is full of endless possibilities. In a fast pace society computer mediated communication is convenient and in some cases necessary. The problem that seems to arise with this particular form of communication is that computers are used to manage interpersonal relationships. CMC is any form of communication transmitted through computer or telephone. Although it helps maintain and establish relationships, I think it can have negative effects on everyday communication.




In the article “Social Identification and Interpersonal Communication in Computer-Mediated Communication: What You Do Versus Who You Are in Virtual Groups” by Zuoming Wang, Joseph B. Walther, & Jeffrey T. Hancock, they investigate the influences of interpersonal communication with the use of CMC in a personal setting and a virtual setting. In the experiment there were several group members, in every group there was a “prototype” that the in group members want to seek approval from and the out group members were less liked and isolated. When they switched to the virtual setting it was evident that it was a much more comfortable social setting for those who were not as out-going in the first face to face experiment. In the article they express the negative effects of CMC stating “CMC reduces the (inter)personal basis for social comparison, self-awareness, and self-presentation… The anonymity of others means that they tend to be perceived as interchangeable members of the group rather than unique individuals; perceptions of individual differences among interactants are reduced, leading to less individuated impressions and a less interpersonal basis for interaction. (Walther, Hancock & Wang p.61-62) This means the application of less personal interaction is likely to create a continuous feel of impersonal communication among people in virtual and face to face settings.


CMC forces humans to lose intimate moments with others, making everyone seem similar in traits, personality and identity. Since CMC is such an indirect way of interacting that signs and messages that are transmitted can be misconstrued. It is an important factor to our growing and changing generation but is not the only way we should depend on, we should depend on face to face interaction so we don’t get lost in translation amongst each other.

Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) is the communication between people through technological devices. As said in the book “Computer mediated communication: social interaction and the Internet” by Crispin Thurlow, Laura B. Lengel, Alice Tomic, the term of CMC has been around since the first electronic digital computer was invented. Nowadays, CMC also includes other technological communication devices, such as cell phones.


John December, the founder of CMC magazine had defined CMC as a process of human communication via computers, involving people, situated in particular contexts, engaging in processes to shape media for a variety of purposes. It means that this process is the main reason of humans’ written interactions and a huge factor why interpersonal communication around the world is developing more and more every day. To my understanding, the interpersonal communication via computers or other devices belongs to the CMC, and to the facilities that this process offers, because this create an easy way of communication in means of speed when sending or receiving messages, and in means of distance between the sender and the receiver.


From their introduction, what made computer-mediated communication special was their ability to bridge distances between individuals. Duck, Rutt, Hurst, and Strejc (1991) propose that relationships are maintained through not only strategic behavior but also, and potentially more importantly, routine interactions between two individuals. CMC lacks many aspects of traditional communication, such as physical presence, social, nonverbal, and contextual cues.


Two factors are presented in social information-processing theory that influences interpersonal relationships within CMC.

1. People are naturally motivated to build an affiliation with others.

2. CMC users develop the skills to decode textual cues to form interpersonal impressions (use of emoticons, such as :-) to indicate a smile).

Based on these two factors, individuals are able to form impressions, gain interpersonal knowledge, and develop relationships solely through textual interaction.


Communication Imperative “we’re born to communicate and are driven to maximize our communication satisfaction and interaction”. So it’s not just a matter of what technology affords or permits us to do, but of how we appropriate the technology and make it do what we want it to do!

There are many factors that factor into CMC and make it what it is. These factors are the user’s motives, types of communication, and the degree of the user’s participation. CMC relates to interpersonal communication because it actually enables its extension. CMC helps interpersonal communication by helping overcome limitations of time and space between people. It also has an effect on how people interact with each other. The article perfectly relates and supports how CMC has helped and is related to interpersonal communication. CMC has helped interpersonal communication in great ways. For example: If you’re not in the mood to call someone on the phone you can easily just text the person. In the old days this might seem disrespectful but it has become the norm around the teens today. However, as mentioned in the article, you can really never know someone’s true feelings or motives through an IM or text. People are always saying if the person takes too long then they don’t care and God help the person if they don’t respond. However, this all depends on the person and the person’s motive.


Work Cited:


Hancock, Jeffery T., Joseph B. Walther, and Zuoming Wang. "Social Identification and Interpersonal Communication in Computer-Mediated Communication: What You Do Versus Who You Are in Virtual Groups." Human Communication Research (2009): 59-85. NCA/ EBSCO. Web. 13 Feb. 2010.

Kim, Junghyun. "Interpersonal Interaction in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) : Exploratory Qualitative Research Based on Critical Review of the Existing Theories. (2003) International Communication Association EBSCO. Web. 12. Feb. 2010


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