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Over the past few decades, computers and digital technology have become much more popular. In the early days of the Internet, only a small group of people used it as a communication tool. The modern world is much different. Many people of all ages in the United States regularly use things like laptops or smartphones in order to communicate digitally. Different opinions exist over whether such communication is a good thing. Some people think it increases how connected someone feels to their friends and family by allowing them to instantly contact them at any time. On the other hand, other people think that it is detrimental because it takes away from traditional social interactions and the ability to read body language and social cues. Although overusing digital communication may take away from some individuals’ ability to interact in social settings, I do not think that the cons of digital technology outweigh the pros.
I was surprised at the amount of time that I spent on either a smartphone or a computer in a single day. I was aware that digital communication and digital technology was an important part of my life, but I was unaware of the extent of how much I rely on it. I spent about half of my day using some form of digital technology. Although I was not always communicating with people when using my phone or laptop, I still spent a large amount of time doing things like playing games, browsing the web, or checking my Facebook profile.
Studying our computer-mediated-communication is important as a result of how much time it occupies in a single day. It is possible that some people may use traditional social interactions much more frequently. However, there are many people who are relying more and more on digital forms of communication (Simpson, 2002). The number of people who purchase a smartphone or laptop is increasing on a yearly basis (Simpson, 2002). It is a topic worth studying because it can give us information about whether or not our social interactions are being negatively impacted by digital communication.
Nonverbal communication is about things like body language, emotional expressions, and other aspects of communication that are not limited to only the words that a person says (Harper et al., 1978). I noticed that some misunderstandings took place in some of my digital communications, and that they are likely due to a lack of nonverbal communication in the interaction. For example, one of my friends was being sarcastic in a text message. I initially misunderstood their sarcasm because it was challenging to interpret the tone and way that they were saying the words on the screen. The use of emoticons sometimes helped me to understand the emotions that someone was trying to express in a conversation. Sometimes emoticons cannot convey more complex or subtle emotions that someone is experiencing.
Overall, I realized that it was challenging to interpret things like sarcasm, humor, and frustration when communicating in digital forms. On the bright side, I was able to have interactions that were almost identical to face-to-face interactions by using video calls on my smart phone. I could still see the person’s body language and read their facial expressions whenever we were in a video call.
Digital forms of communication are becoming more and more popular. As people spend more and more time each day using their phones or laptops in order to communicate, it is useful to examine the impact that such communications have.
Time of Day Total minutes of inter-action Type of Communication Receiver Notes on verbal elements Notes on Nonverbal Communication Functions of Verbal/Nonverbal Communication
9:30 a.m. Sample:
1:30 Phone (Cell), Computer –(Facebook) Computer (email)
Computer – (shopping)
Other Family, Friend, Work, Comm-ercial, other. Formal versus informal language, use of slang, denotations, etc.
She used words like “difficult” and “bad” which made me feel the denoted she was upset. But she also said “we have the resources,” which suggested everything was okay. Though I didn’t know if “I” was most of this “we” or if she was referring to others. Sample:
I couldn’t make out the tone of the email from my supervisor. She sounded like she was upset, but I wasn’t sure. I’m going to go speak to her directly to get a better sense of what the email was about. I will link this to advice offered in Bevan and Sole on managing impressions, as I want her to have a good impression of me through demonstrating confidence through my body language. Verbal –
“Expressed confirming and disconfirming messages”(Bevan & Sole, Section 4.1). She told me about some issues she had with my document, “disconfirming” my work plan.
Nonverbal – because of the lack of nonverbal cues, I could not easily detect “messages of emotion, influence, and deception” (Bevan & Sole, Section 4.2). If we’d spoken, I could have interpreted what she was feeling and avoided feeling bad myself.
10:00 am 8 minutes Test messaging 4 different friends Informal communication
Abbreviations and emoticons were used during our interactions My friends used emoticons in our communication in order to help make their message more clear Verbal – The verbal elements of our communication were the words that my friends used. Although they sometimes used abbreviations, I was able to correctly interpret their message.
Nonverbal- in order to convey some nonverbal things, my friends used emoticons. In addition, they also used abbreviations like “smh” in order to indicate that they were shaking their head over something.
12:45pm 30 minutes Video Call Friend The verbal elements of the conversation were easy to understand. The video call had a good connection, so I could clearly hear everything my friend was saying. Nonverbal communication was present in the video call. I was able to see my friend’s body language and facial expressions while we were talking, which helped me to understand exactly what she was trying to communicate. Both verbal and nonverbal elements were present in the video call. I was able to hear all of the verbal elements of the conversation, and I was simultaneously able to see all of the nonverbal elements of our interaction.
3:00pm 5 minutes Email Coworkers The words used in my emails with coworkers were more formal than those used in text messages with my friends. I did not see any slang or abbreviations in our work-related emails. Nonverbal communication did not play a big role in my work-related emails. Most of the emails had an objective and professional tone. None of them expressed any identifiable emotions. The work emails were much more about verbal communication than about non-verbal. Even if some of my co-workers were experiencing an emotion at the time they wrote the emails, they did a good job of keeping those out of the email and staying focused on whatever issues were related to our work.
4:30pm 45 minutes Computer Commercial I watched an informative video on Bigthink.com. The person in the video made many different points about their topic, and they used text on the screen in order to reinforce their points. Nonverbal communication was present in the video. The speaker’s whole body was visible in the video. I was able to see his mannerisms and facial expressions as he explained information about the topic. Although both verbal and nonverbal communication played a role in the video, verbal communication was more important. The speaker was giving an informative presentation on a topic in psychology. His body language and emotions were visible, but he tried to remain objective and informative when giving the presentation.
5:00pm 20 minutes Computer (Facebook) 2 different friends In my interactions with friends on Facebook, I noticed that the communication was informal. People used abbreviations and slang in conversations. In addition, one of my friends used Internet Memes in order to respond to people. Nonverbal communication was not present in my Facebook interactions. Most of the conversations were lighthearted or based on humor. Verbal communication played a larger role than nonverbal communication in my Facebook interactions with friends. Emoticons and other things were sometimes used, but the actual words that people typed out were more useful in understanding their message.
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