Thoughts: On the Argument for Virtual Communication (I)

Since I’m having an argumentative paper tomorrow, and one of the topics that can be tested is (rather broadly) ‘New Media’, I decided I could research on virtual communications as a form of revision – killing the proverbial birds with my virtual stone, the Internet. Anyway.

What I really did find as a constant theme throughout many pages discussing the (mostly harmful) effects of mobile phones and whatnot on their healthy growth, was the argument that since the Internet has been the cornerstone for the reconnection of people with their long-lost friends or old contacts, it can ‘strengthen’ this relationship. The loosely defined terms here are (sometimes) rashly applied to a general concept of the ability to build and foster the growth of a relationship through virtual means, ergo virtual communication is desirable as a bond-strengthener overall. The fact is that I don’t find this explicitly stated in most news articles online or on those discussive sites, but I think that most people have informally come to the abovementioned conclusion, thus giving themselves a reason to engage heavily in such means of interaction.

As I highlighted in my previous post about the differences in virtual and ‘face-to-face’ communication, virtuality eliminates the need to confront body language, emotive atmosphere, and facial expression (as examples, amongst some other perceived obstacles towards proper communication.) I think I should then clearly stress the crux of the argument lies in the purpose of engaging in any communication. Why do we want to reconnect with a primary school classmate whom we’d lost contact with aeons ago? Why do we search for friends on anonymous interaction websites like Omegle? Why do we rely on SMSes to convey information to our coworkers? ( Or why do we use Facebook messaging to get to know an acquaintance better?

Purpose determines means and attitude. What this means (no pun intended) is that what we want to achieve affects not only the way with which we try to achieve it, but how we view our way of doing so. I will explain what I view to be main purposes for virtual communication (this is the given means; we are trying to figure out the purpose). Firstly, the creation of a new relationship status between two people. By this I mean that one is trying to generate a new type of connection between him/her and another person. This new type is rather significantly different from the previous (or non-existent) relationship, for example: making virtual acquaintances on Omegle, talking to an acquaintance for an extended, consistent period of time. For the first: none –> virtual acquaintances; for the second: acquaintances –> virtual friends (?). Usually the ‘new type’ is an elevated status from the previous, and I have not thought of any declination as an intended purpose.

The second purpose: information. Simple and superficially elementary. The child texts the mother about ‘chaffeur’ arrangements; the worker pushes the work to the colleague; the class monitor disseminates a message from the teacher regarding an upcoming test. I won’t discuss much on this until it becomes necessary (it can), and as of now this purpose is simple to understand. We must remember this purpose does not have its aim at improving relationships, BUT it can affect relationships. However now we will look at those purposes aimed specifically at interpersonal ties.

Finally, the last purpose: the enrichment of an existing type of relationship. Seems closely linked to the first purpose, but there is a noticeable difference. One creates, the other maintains or deepens. A sufficient example I can use is that of reconnecting with an old friend – and by this I want to refer to friend rather than an acquaintance (like a classmate). You two have not seen each other for rather long and you can catch up and reconnect through virtual means, as if you guys were still friends. Or maybe, as is the case for many now, you would want to increase interaction between you and your love partner, and by frequent virtual communication you can show you care, while also making the relationship deeper in a way. 

Now that I think I have rather aptly summarised the three (main but not all-inclusive) purposes for virtual communication, I can stop here although I can go on for rather long on this elaborate argument.


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