Online Communication is Replacing Real Life Interactions: A Qualitative Research into Computer-Mediated and Face-to Face Communication

By: Tracy Thomas and Mandy Mah

Abstract

Computer-mediated relationships are intriguing and have become a massive phenomenon in interpersonal communications in today’s society. When Social Information Processing (SIP) theorist, Joseph Walter, predicted that computer-mediated communication could prove more effective than face-to-face communication, the concept seemed to be without merit. (Griffin et al., 2019, p. 117). Until the early 90s, it was beyond human imagination that people could form meaningful relationships through computers.  In recent times, computers and the internet have become one of the top ways for individuals to communicate in this century.  New advanced technologies have made it so much easier to create relationships with individuals irrespective of their proximities. Mediums like emails, texts, audio and video calls have helped people maintain old relationships and establish new ones. Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor’s Social Penetration theory (SPT) states that intimacy develops through mutual self-disclosure, which confirms SIP theorist’s argument that “given the opportunity for a sufficient exchange of social messages and subsequent relational growth, as goes face-to-face communication, so goes online communication” (Griffin et al., 2019, pp. 93-94). Over time, the gap between computer-mediated and face-to-face relationships has grown smaller, and over the last year, perhaps this gap has become non-existence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper explores the closing gap between computer-mediated communication and face-to-face communication. This research paper analyzes factors that influence computer-mediated communications, such as self-presentation and cultural differences, using applicable theories and research articles. It shows how computer-mediated communication has slowly matched up to and possibly replaced face-to-face communication.

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