Apr 8, 2019 in Informative

Intercultural Communication

Introduction

Computer mediated communication is communication that takes place through the use of machines. These machines may include the use of computers, phones or tablets. The use of computer mediated communication emerged upon the creation and advancement of computers in the past few decades. This, therefore, means that people used face-to-face communication and other devices such as telephones and letters before the invention of computers. Most of the computer mediated communication that takes place in the contemporary world entails the use of such platforms as Twitter, Facebook, Face-time, and Skype among other social media platforms. The use of these platforms has greatly affected traditional means of communication such as the basic face-to-face communication and the use of letters, telegrams and faxes. There are many advantages to the use of computer mediated communication. There are, however, just like virtually every other available technology, disadvantages of computer mediated communication. The use of computer mediated communication has negatively affected interpersonal and intercultural communication in relation to aspects such as non-verbal communication, perception, and identity. 

Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication forms an essential part of the entire communication process. It has been, in fact, considered to be capable of complete communication in different circumstances. The need for non-verbal communication is to bolster any given communication as it reveals to the people who are communicating the different reactions and feelings regarding their communication. Even so, non-verbal communication had almost been wiped out completely during the early years of the discovery of communication as the most common use of computer mediated communication was texts. Texts could not, in whatever way, bring out the non-verbal part of the communication between people. This greatly affected their interpersonal communication as it was virtually impossible to know whether a person was lying or not. 

Later in the years, there have been numerous technological advancements that relate to the computer. There emerged computers and phones that have cameras. These cameras have consistently been improved to better the quality of the images perceived on their screens. Through the use of these computers for communicating, some aspects of the non-verbal communication are capable of being picked up. For instance, among the newest video communication platforms are Skype and Face-time. These media offer some kind of consolation to the communication process. They enable a person see the person on the other end and whatever they are doing or what their expressions are. This has been a revolutionary attempt to save the values and principles of communication. Even so, with the invention and advancement of computers does not change the different ways through which people from different cultures all over the world express themselves. The Japanese may bow while the Indians may shake their heads and Americans may just sit causally in a relaxed manner when there is so much they are trying to express. All these call for an understanding of the different cultures of the world for effective communication. 

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The use of social media video platforms such as Skype and Face-time, however, does not negate such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and even the use of emails. This is because majority of the computer mediated communication is done through means that do not allow for the detection of non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures. They include emails, Facebook and Twitter. All these conduits of communication do not allow for a one on one chat between the people. In this way, people often find themselves expressing their messages in quite a different manner that they would have in the event they had a face-to- face talk with the other party. This is among the most common source of lies in any communication possible. Often on the social media and email, people tell big bunches of lies without feeling any guilt because they do it at their own comfort and privacy. There is no way through which the person on the other end of the conversation would know whether a person is telling a lie or not, or whether they are laughing at the other person’s problems while sending sympathetic messages. One would not know whether the other person is making fun of them or they are not serious about something they are expected to take seriously. Such social media platforms are, in fact, a destructive force of the interpersonal and intercultural communication between people. People end up losing trust in one another and rather than sharing their problems, they bottle them up inside. This is not what communication is aimed at achieving. Communication, in its general and natural sense, is aimed at promoting peace, unity and trust. It also seeks to promote and bring out the way that people feel. Computer mediated communication loses on this as it conceals such crucial parts of the communication process as non-verbal expressions. This, in turn, affects the quality, content and even frequency of communication between the different groups and types of people. 

Perception

Perception is the process in which an individual experiences their world and then makes sense out of the things that they experienced. In interpersonal communication, people do not often have the ability to control the process of perception. Perception, in itself, has the tendency to be automatic. It is the perception of a person by another person that determines what that other person thinks or feels about that person and how to relate with them and vice versa. 

The use of computer mediated communication affects the way in which they express themselves. The first impression counts in such a context. As a result of this, there is always the need for any person to compose themselves in a way that would boost their image and even encourage other people to like them. The problem that is presented in terms of perception and interpersonal and intercultural sense over computer mediated communication is the fact that, in most occasions, it is not only the person that makes a post that views that post. It is exposed to a myriad of users. In this case, when a person makes a comment on another person’s post or picture, other people are bound to see it. In the event that the post did not resonate quite well with some of the users, they may then begin to perceive the commenter in a negative way. 

The problem with this approach is the fact that people do not often go through the entire conversation to understand the root of the comment that the person made. In some case, most cases, any negative or funky comment is often as a result of the kind of relationship the two users- the one that posted and the one that commented- have a good personal relationship between them. They simply throw in some negative comments to keep the conversation going or just for the fun of it. They understand each other. The third parties, however, do not understand this. The effects of anything that they read or see from the comments or posts of another person regularly form the basis of the way they interact or would interact with that person. More frequently, these people may block the users for their comments or posts or even unfriend them. In other instances, they go around the platform or the real world discussing the comments in negative light affecting the way that other people would also associate with that person. The ultimate result of this is that a misconception takes place and ruins everything without the opportunity being offered to the communicator. In the actual world face-t-face communication, it would have been almost natural and easier for the person to explain their post or conduct. This would have led to the fixing of an “external” error. The ability to remedy different situations is among the reasons of people communicating with each other. 

Another example of perception takes place in instances of communicating and exchanging messages through the computer. People, as an effect of socialization, experience or choice, have been taught many things. They learn to assign different things different levels of importance. In the case of communication, people have always associated letters with more seriousness and importance. The same applies to emails, though not commonly in the present time. In the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, however, people seem not to place any significant level of importance or seriousness to messages sent through these platforms. This is due to the fundamental though that these media are simply a source of social linkages. As a result of this thinking, people find themselves refusing to engage in or receive any serious conversations through such platforms. People do not take Twitter Facebook or Instagram as important forms of communication for them. They would rather they receive telephone calls. In addition to this, these sites are always visited by people at alternating times. This, therefore, means that any conversation or talk in general may be left hanging or seriously broken and misunderstood due to the different times people secure to visit the sites. 

Identity

Identity entails the views, qualities, expressions and beliefs that a particular person possesses. It is these views, beliefs and expressions that make the person or group of persons different from others. Computer mediated communication has offered many people the opportunity to explore and expand the various views and beliefs that they uphold. This has, as a result, created a number of groups and even pages that resonate with their beliefs. The effect of this, however, is that these groups are often available to access by every person using the social media platforms in which the particular groups are found. For instance, many people use Facebook. They are able to see every available group and, in some cases, even access their profiles. This is done by simple searches within the sites. Some of the posts made by these groups are interesting and may prompt a person to follow the group. This may be in spite of the fact that that person does not identify with the main subject or goal of the group. Some people, even worse, do not have any friends among the people belonging to that group. The result of this then is that the person gains a false identity from the view of other user who may go through that particular user’s profile. They then start associating the person with the group that they liked or followed yet it was never the intention of the person to identify with the group. For instance, when a heterosexual man on Facebook browses their accounts and sees a homosexual group that often posts extremely humorous or interesting posts, they may like the group simply because of the group’s posting. This person’s friends who have access to his profile may see that the person liked the homosexual group. They then associate the person with being gay. People may then start unfriending them or keeping away from them thinking that they are gay. The confusion then comes about as a result of the individual simply liking a page that did not even demonstrate any form of similarity in identity between them.

Another effect that may occur as an effect of computer mediated communication on interpersonal and intercultural communications is in relation to the number of friends that a person has n social media. It is often the case that the bigger the number of friends that a person has, the more diverse their friends are. This is because it is almost impracticable to find such a large number of people being friends to one person and sharing an identity with that person. For instance, if a person has an approximated 967 friends on their social media account, these persons are highly likely to be branded as having a confused sense of identity or that they just have a false identity. It then forms some kind of attitude among their friends, both on their friends list and out of the list, which is misleading. They start thinking that the person lacks face as a result of such a diversity of friends with most of whom they share no particular common interest or view. In fact, majority of these people belong to clearly different social institutions and standings that the person does not belong to. One may be left being thought of negatively by other people or even thinking negative or confused of themselves. This then affects how they relate with others. The effect is a diminishing sense of and actual communication and the decrease in trust in them by other people or themselves. This affects interpersonal communications as other people receive a false sense of the individual when they chat or even like or comment on pictures. 

Conclusion

The use of computer mediated communication has had a negative impact on the interpersonal and intercultural communication in relation to aspects such as non-verbal communication, perception, and identity. All this is in spite of the many advantages that computers have offered to the human race. In terms of non-verbal communication, computer mediated communication has made it virtually impossible for people to understand the non-verbal cues of the people they communicate with. This has led to the breaking of trust and the development of hopelessness in communication since one may not know another person’s intentions or expressions. Another negative impact has been through perception. In perception, people pick up different views or images of a person depending on the things that they express during computer mediated communication and create their own opinions of people without offering them. They do this without offering them an opportunity to substantiate their actions thereby blocking potential relationships and communication. Finally, computer mediated communication has resulted in development of different “identities” by people. By simply following or liking a post or group on s given social media, one is likely to be associated with the identity represented by the group or post. This results in people making assumptions regarding a person and losing the opportunity to relate with them personally or even at a level that is considerate of cultures. In addition to this, having many friends with whom a certain user lacks common interests and preferences may result in a person presenting a false identity. It is crucial and necessary that a person’s friend share at least some interests. The reflection of people with many friend that do not have similar interests may be considered to affect interpersonal communication between the person and other “friends” as the friends may feel that the user presents a false of themselves. 

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