Face to Face Communication versus Computer Mediated Communication In the 21st century we are now living in, the rapid advancement of technology has completely changed our lives, especially the tools we use to communicate. In the olden days where snail mail is one of the popular ways in communicating, people would rather choose interact face to face because it is the only way that could physically maintain their relationship as they can see the facial expressions and body gestures shown by the person who conveys the message to them.
Even now, some people still prefer face to face interaction over computer mediated communication because of the lack of non verbal cues in computer mediated communication. However, with the invention of various computer mediated tools, people have eventually replaced it with face to face communication without them realizing because apparently the inventions of Facebook, Twitter, Skype and many more serve a more convenient platform for people to communicate.
Although face to face communication is a better way to convey messages and feelings to each other, computer mediated communication makes our lives much easier. The first difference that distinguishes between computer mediated communication and face to face communication is the effectiveness. Nowadays, most of us are very much depending on various social networking sites, for example the most common one- Facebook and Skype to enable us to communicate with people living on the other side of the world and even those who live close by.
Using computer mediated communication for the purposes of interpersonal communication is a common tool for those who live a long distance away from one another, however multiple studies also show that computer mediated communication is used to communicate with those who live close by or even among family members who live in the same household (Stafford, Kine. & Dimmick, 1999, Wellman 2008). Besides that, computer mediated communication is effective in divergent tasks such as idea generation.
Computer mediated communication tools, also known as the group support system (GSS), provide a structured environment that allows participants in a collaborative team to interact simultaneously and anonymously to generate ideas, make decisions and solve problems (Jessup, Canolly & Tansik 1990). The reason why computer mediated communication is good in idea generation but not in decision making is that the process of interacting through computer mediated communication might hinder the relationship between the sender and receiver due to the lack of non-verbal feedback and this will probably delay in decision making.
The lack of non-verbal cues makes accurate perception of emotions difficult and receivers may attribute more neutral or negative meanings to messages than senders instead. Computer mediated communication lack of cues and that affect the content of the messages cannot be transmitted effectively and that channel is unnatural and less useful and efficient than face to face communication (Draft & Lengel, 1986; Kock, 2004; Kock, et. al 2008). By missing the cues, one will not be able to fully understand what the other party is trying to communicate.
Apart from that, face to face communication is inconvenient for some people who stay far or overseas to interact face to face with the party they wish to see. They will need to travel a long distance to reach the other party who they want to convey the message to. However, it is effective in convergent tasks such as decision making. Face to face groups are better at decision making than computer mediated communication groups because they can more easily reach a consensus at the same time using immediate verbal and non-verbal feedback (Archee, 1993).
Face to face discussion is faster and the feedback facilitated contain both visual and audio cues compared to the slow computer mediated groups due to the lack of non-verbal feedback and the occurring of uncertainty at others’ reaction towards their opinions. Face to face remains the most powerful human interaction, never replace intimacy and immediacy of people conversing in the same room (Begley, 2004). In addition, computer mediated communication and face to face communication provide different communication speed to people.
In computer mediated communication, the message delivery is faster by just sending email or just typing inbox message. The speed and ease of typing reduce the time taken in computer mediated interactions and ease the pressure on group members. As a result, the message might fail to deliver to the recipient. When the message is failed to deliver and users cannot depend on non-verbal cues, there is a higher chance that the ambiguity will increase, thus creating opportunity for miscommunication.
Therefore, it is not a good idea to send urgent messages through computer mediated communication because sometime the receiver might not check his/ her mail frequently or the internet happens to be down will lead to miscommunication. Whereas for face to face communication, people need to arrange time to meet up with the person whom they want to convey the message to. This will actually delay the time for the meeting if they couldn’t find a suitable time to match with each other’s schedule. The receivers can instant feedback with clear verbal and non-verbal cues.
Face to face communication allows participants to accurately observe both verbal and non-verbal of others. Subtle but important nuances such as voice inflections, hand gestures and facial expressions just don’t come across in an email message (McFerran, 2010). People will receive the feedback from the receiver on the spot without waiting for days and months. This is also enables the participants to adjust their communication according to the feedback. There is also a big difference in the cost aspect between face to face communication and computer mediated communication.
People save the cost and effort of travelling and gathering everyone in the same place at the same time. They can contact each other by using computer mediated programs such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Skype is also one of the computer mediated programs that allows face to face communication by using the webcam function. People can see each other and interact by using the application of Skype. Therefore, those who stay far away from each other and wish to have face to face interaction, they can communicate using Skype which provides both interaction in one shot.
Moreover, computer mediated communication has also become one of the most cost effective ways of conducting businesses such as online boutique, online shopping store, online booking and so on. This enables those online companies to save the monthly fees such as rental fees, the salary for employees, water and electricity bills and so on. Additionally, customers can also order or comment about the services or products of those online companies via email. This is convenient for both the customers and also the companies as the companies will know the feedback provided by the customers by just checking their mailbox.
For instance, the company can save the travelling cost for business purpose as they can reply their customers’ feedback through email. This shows that implementing computer mediated communication systems in organization will mainly enhance the efficiency and cost. Besides, it is costly for those people who want to travel to a certain place if they want to meet with his or her friends, family or even relatives. It requires expensive higher cost of travelling fees such as bus ticket , taxi fees, airline ticket and so on especially during those important festivals or celebrations.
Furthermore, this is also time consuming and causing the person to be exhausted throughout the long journey if he or she stays far away from the destination. Also, the person who conducts the business using face to face communication will need to pay for the business travelling fees. According to the report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, most of the people reported their companies have instituted business travel restrictions, including limitations on the frequency of travel (57%), on the cost of airline tickets (57%) and in accommodation (51%).
This shows that face to face communication causes a large amount of cost for the business travelling and that’s the reason why the company implements this kind of restriction. Nevertheless, face to face communication even causes people to spend the cost more the actual amount they have to pay to. For example, if there is something missed out during the gathering or meeting, the person must travel to meet up again and this requires cost and time. This might caused a big impact if that is an important issues missed out during the meeting with the client from other country who carries an important business for the company.
Also, the most important is it is hard to arrange the time to meet up as it is hard to match with each other’s schedule. The business cannot conduct smoothly and it will indirectly affect the performance of the company. In a nutshell, face to face interaction and computer mediated communication have their own benefits and majority of the people has known it. However, undoubtedly, computer mediated communication has already replaced face to face interaction without anybody realizing and it’s the most convenient tool to communicate with each other.
Although it is hard to deny that face to face is also an alternative way for human’s communication, computer mediated communication has becoming more and more powerful and yet to be the major tool for our communication purpose. That’s why people nowadays often communicate using computer mediated communication which is an easiest way to stay connected with each other no matter who come from different part of the world. References: An,Y-J. & Frick, T. (2006). Student perceptions of asynchronous computer-mediated communication in face-to-face courses.
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