Wednesday, March 21, 2012

week 8

Dear Malcolm Parks and Kory Floyd,

Your study Making Friends in Cyberspace was very interesting to me. I believe studies that deal with the Internet are very rare due to the complexity of the situations. This study challenged many of the theories that have been developed for relationships in face-to-face settings and showed that the study of online relationships is very underdeveloped. As stated in the study, the Internet has an unlimited amount of users with a variety of different means for the use of the Internet making studying any one aspect very hard.

In several of my classes that have dealt with computer-mediated communication, I have learned about the disadvantages of computer mediated communication. Without the social cues, like non-verbal feedback, that many experience and interpret in face-to-face communication, computer mediated communication can be very difficult. I have experienced this first hand when working on projects over the Internet. Although we had a mixture of both face-to-face communication and computer-mediated communication, the completion of the project was very frustrating and hard to say the least.

Your study looks at a different approach to computer-mediated communication that I have not learned as much about; How relationships are developed through computer mediated communication. Given my knowledge about computer-mediated communication in work settings, I was surprised at many of the findings. I was shocked that 2/3 of the respondents formed personal relationships with someone they met through an Internet newsgroup. I see that the best predictor of developing personal relationships were both duration and frequency of participation. Those who contributed to more newsgroups and who had been reading particular newsgroups longer were more likely to form personal relationships. Maybe these “type” of people (those that are particularly interested in newsgroups so that they spend more time and energy on them) may be more prone to developing relationships with people they meet online. They may also meet more people online because they spend more time on the newsgroups and contribute to more of them, thus allowing them to have more people at their disposal.

For me, the most shocking finding was that 33% of respondents have met their online friends face-to-face. Although it did not specify, I assumed this meant in person, not through mediated face-to-face technologies (like video chat). With all of the warnings and scares about online predators and the dangers of people forming false online identities, I was surprised that so many participants had met their online friends in person.


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