Dear Malcom R. Parks,
I agree with your interest in observing and analyzing Internet discussion groups and the online world they create because in today’s generations the majority of people are using the Internet for an array of reasons varying from communicating, to doing homework, and etcetera. After reading your work on your two options of whether online relations are shallow, personal, and hostile, versus being liberated, genuine, personal, and found, it was difficult to decide which one I leaned more towards. Going into this I definitely agreed with your first option because I always thought, “how real can relationships be if it’s just through the Internet?” Yet after reading this I combined what I already assumed about how people act in computer-mediated communication (CMC) and what I learned from this and it opened my eyes a little more. I already assumed that people in CMC groups and having the ability to be anonymous allowed them to act/behave/say nonconforming things or speak whatever was on their mind, even if it was more blunt or aggressive than what they might have said if it was a face-to-face (FTF) discussion. When you have that anonymity, it shields you from being scrutinized and actually allows you to “show” more of yourself through the discussion groups. CMC also lets people build relationships in a number of ways all at the same time no matter how close/far apart you might be, including socializing, (as well as planning times to meet FTF) working on projects/work online, playing games, giving/receiving advice/support, and much more. CMC has pros and cons like everything else in the world, which allows people to argue that you can’t get personal through CMC or that you could misinterpret a conversation if someone doesn’t use correct punctuation or gives short one-word answers, but that could happen in FTF times too, just in FTF communication you are able to see non-verbal cues… Long story short, people’s relationships will depend on the availability of technologies and channels that allow people to communicate and interact.
- Gabby Theroux