Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Face-to-face vs. Facebook communication




Face-to-Face vs. Facebook Communication

Today there are multiple ways a person can choose to converse with another person. One of the most popular ways is communicating through social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Skype. Many high school and college students will use the term “Facebook me” when talking to their friends to the point that “to Facebook” has unofficially became a verb that many people have started to use. Facebook has unofficially become a place where users can reconnect with old friends, develop new friendships, and also de-friend users. When I was deciding on a project subject for this course, I randomly came across multiple statuses about misunderstandings and people stating that they wanted to de-friend individuals. This made me want to analyze the differences between face to face and Facebook communication. This paper will describe what communication is, what Facebook is, and if Facebook has taken the place of face to face communication.

Communication
Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another. It involves a sender transmitting an idea, information, or feeling to a receiver. In order to have effective communication the receiver needs to understand the exact information or idea that the sender intended to transmit. Communication problems occur when someone fails to communicate or process, which will lead to confusion. Face to face communication remains the most powerful human interaction (Merkle & Richardson, 2000). Even though technological devices are wonderful, they can never replace the intimacy and immediacy of people conversing in the same room


Facebook 

Communication has certainly changed with the evolution of the internet. This evolution has been essential for Facebook. Facebook was developed on Harvard’s campus as a social networking site for college students. Facebook has spread around the world including people of all ages in countries throughout the world (Nogales, 2010). This site allows users to connect with friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even strangers. Facebook creates an internet community where users can customize their personal profile. There is also a Facebook wall section on a user’s page where other users are able to publicly communicate and post comments, videos, links, and photos. Users can also “like” things that other users post on their wall.  The only problem is those post are and will always be public to any one of the user’s friends who have permission to view their wall. If a user prefers to send a private message he or she can use the messaging service.

Users can also send out mass messages to friends to invite them to events. With Facebook invitations, users can decide whether they are “attending, maybe attending, or not attending.” This application allows the person to see who will be attending the event. With face to face communication it is more difficult to contact multiple users at the same time. Before this site people sent out invitations cards and had to wait a couple days for a response or for the person to confirm via the telephone if he or she was attending the event. The big question is has Facebook allow people to become more antisocial and easier for people to decline an invitation without the awkwardness of face to face communication. Although Facebook has made communication easier when it comes to knowing who will or will not be attending an event. In person communication is important because it allows instant conversation between two people. Facebook has tried to create immediate dialogue though an instant message service known as “Facebook chat” where users can see who is online and can chose to chat with another user (Mirzoeff, 2009). The video provided below displays the benefits of Facebook in today’s society.


With the constant increasing use of Facebook among teens some parents have begun setting guidelines and limitations. Since teens are use to texting rather than speaking to one another, they do not learn how to traditionally communication and often do not know how to react to social cues. For this reason, many students post things on Facebook that may be hurtful, but do not realize the pain they have caused someone because they cannot see a person’s facial reaction. As result, developmentally, teens incur a lot of social deficit. Before Facebook, if a child was teased by another child. A teacher or adult would sit down with the children to work it out (McLuhan, 2011). But with Facebook the damage is done and remains unresolved. The minimum age a teen can create an account is 13, but however some users are creating accounts even earlier. Every teen especially between the ages of 13-16 may not be mature or responsible enough to handle social networking sites. Research has shown that extreme internet use can contribute to depression in otherwise healthy teens.

   Since extreme Facebook activity has been shown to result in teasing, cyber bullying, and sexual predators many parents are now setting guidelines for their teens. The first step is to set a limit on the amount of time spent on the Facebook. Secondly the parent and teen should research Facebook and compare the pros and cons of having an account. Lastly, the guardian should explain that if their son or daughter does not stick to the time limit or post appropriate content than their account can be deleted (Clardy, 2010). 


Face-to-face vs. Facebook communication

           As society moves toward a more virtual world the main question is if social networking sites like Facebook will take the place of face-to-face communication. Often disagreements can arise over text messages, emails, and posts that are misunderstood. Messages can be misinterpreted when they are isolated from body language, and texts alone can convey the wrong message about how someone is really feeling. With online conversations, a certain dimension of emotion is missing, a dimension that only exists when two people are face to face. Facial expressions, gestures, and emotional tone in a person’s voice alter the meaning of their words, which is why it is very difficult to express oneself fully and authentically in an email, text, or even in front of a Skype screen (Nogales, 2010). The chart below compares face to face communication with other types of communication.

There are five categories. The first category is words- the words that are spoken or written to deliver a message. The second category is visuals- the visual aids (pictures, videos, and charts) that help understand the message. The third category is voice- the tone, inflection, and volume of the voice used to convey a message.  The fourth category is Face- the facial expression such as smiles, frowns, raised eyebrows, and all the gestures made when delivering a message. The fifth category is body language- the position and movement of the arms, shoulders, legs, head and other body language. The last category is presence- the conditions of the room or shared space that may affect the communication, noise, proximity to other people in the room, temperature, smells, and what other people are doing while the communication is taking place.

Face to Face Communication vs. Other Types of Communication

Words
Visuals
Voice
Face
Body Language
Presence
Face-to-face Communication
x
x
x
x
x
x
Video Conferencing
x
x
x
x
x

Telephone
x
x
x



Texting
x
x




Email
x
x




Social Networks
x
x




Snail Mail
x
x




Web Conferencing
x
x
x
x
x



A user may feel connected with friends who post frequent status updates, but he or she is most likely missing out on the most important information. Even the users that overly post will not post extreme disappointment or crushing rejection. Until friends are face to face and ask each other how they are really doing, it is unlikely that each person will fully relate to each other. People have a tendency to share positive news online and minimize negative information, which might affect the way someone views the person’s life. You may wonder why your friends always seem to go on trips, do fun family events and overcome difficult obstacles. When you realized you only see the best of their life, you can have a more realistic view on how your daily life measures up to theirs. Friendship is more than just keeping tabs on one’s daily life. It is about supporting and encouraging each other’s dreams, hopes, and wishes. Facebook does not fully represent the average life. There are many benefits of friendship in person and cyber. A recent study revealed that people with a number of close friendships live on average 7-8 years longer than those that do not maintain strong social connections. One study found that people with the numerous friendships decreased their risk of death by 60% over a 9 year period. 

 

Americans are now less likely to participate in local community organizations, or become members of assorted clubs with as much enthusiasm as they used to. Facebook interactions often provide anonymity and an ability to present oneself differently than the individual might act in person. The majority of written communication gives people a way to edit their statuses to fit the image the person wants to project, something that is not as easy to do in a real time environment. Since our words are our only connection to others, it is much easier to be dishonest. Sometimes face to face interactions were complemented by Facebook which has created a new type of interpersonal relationship. When it comes to interpersonal relationships there are two things about social psychological principles: those relationship which reward us, or which we associate with rewards, we like. The social exchange for understanding the development and maintenance of interpersonal relationships appears to be equally applicable to both face to face and online relationships. Whether in a social setting, interacting with another person face to face or on Facebook, someone could assume that a fundamental tendency toward seeking positive rewards is shared by all individuals engaging in interpersonal relationships (Merkle & Richardson, 2000). However, this is where the similarities among face to face and Facebook relationship may end.


When considering the characteristics of Facebook relationships, it is probably not surprising that, such relationships could be viewed as being inconsistent compared to face to face relationships. Online posted relationships represent a developmental and behavioral sequence far removed from old fashion methods of public displays of affection. The emergence of the internet has often diminished the need for spatial proximity, and has become heavily text and visual communication based. These communication types have reduced the salience of physical attractiveness. In considering the predictor of relationship formation without face to face interaction two people can never truly get to know one another. In contrast, because the internet has a global presence, those who engage in Facebook are likely to develop long distance relationships.With friendship and romantic relationships, after two individual exhibits physical attractiveness it is essential for individuals to communicate in person in order to keep the relationship alive. While it may be alarming to some people that society may increasingly turn toward the internet as a medium for engaging in friendships and relationships. As American society continues to accelerate its pace, less free time, and individuals strive to balance multiple roles and responsibilities (Merkle& Richardson, 2000). People are finding themselves in a position where it is easier to reconnect and build relationships on Facebook and online than to meet up and have a face to face interaction. 

After researching the differences between face to face and Facebook communication, one fact remains that social networking is constantly improving. What does this say about the direction that society is taking toward communication? Will there be a place on Facebook where users can learn how to identify social cues? If society continues to move in this direction, will there even be a need to learn how to interact with others? Although Facebook has made reconnecting, developing friendships, and inviting friends to events easier, there is no reason to discontinue traditional face to face communication. In order to develop healthy relationships both digitally and interpersonally, it is important to have a balance between the time spent online and the time spent in real life.






Sources:

Clardy, C. (2010, November 8).Facebook vs. face to face: setting facebook guidelines for your teens.   Retrieved from http://community.sw.org/2010/11/facebook-setting-facebook-guidelines-fo -your-teens/

McLuhan, M. (2011, April 13). Could facebook replace face-to-face communication. Retrieved from http://mymediatedworld.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/could-facebook-replace-face-to-face-communications/

Merkle, E. R., & Richardson, R. A. (2000). Digital dating virtual relating: conceptualizingcomputer mediated romantic relationships. Journal of Family Relations, 49(2), 187-192

Mirzoeff, N. (2009). An Introduction to Visual Culture. London: Routledge

Nogales, A. (2010, October 13). Facebook vs. face to face: what’s missing when friends connect online. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/family-secrets/201010/facebook-versus-face-face

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