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Depersonalization and (in) communication in social networks

Depersonalization and (in) communication in social networks

April 2, 2024

Technology has made a big dent in our day-to-day lives through social networks, apps, the omnipresent tablets ... But, How can they influence our communication processes?

We are increasingly connected, although the physical barriers that exist between people when communicating online, make them a useful tool to facilitate our routines, but being a complement without replacing direct human contact. The world of applications and social networks allows to recreate more or less faithfully a direct communication process between sender and receiver, p But it is not the same to be in front of the webcam and be able to appreciate the nonverbal language, to interpret a text message .

The sender-receiver scheme in social networks

Human communication is not something simple. The situation in which information travels cleanly from one person to another never occurs: there are always gaps for misunderstandings to arise, hidden meanings after words and double meanings .

This is so because the scheme emitter-channel-receiver is affected by physical barriers, our ways of interpreting phrases and words and even our emotional state, which in some cases can cause them to appear, for example, rises in a conversation. In communication there is always room for unexpected dynamics to appear: unfortunate phrases, confusions with double meanings, etc.

Communication problems increase when we interact from the internet

The fact of not being face to face makes these potentially problematic contingencies arise more frequently. However, the use of social networks and electronic devices used to communicate do not influence our way of communicating only by hiding contextual or gestural information.

For example, the sense of security that surrounds the comfort area from which you can comment can create the phenomenon of depersonalization when attacking other participants without measure. The fact of being separated from each other makes the members of a conversation behave differently . In order to perform a discourse analysis and be able to interpret the emphases, movements, looks and symbols that are relevant to the issuer, it is necessary to be able to access a certain personal proximity, as well as to enhance the capacity for empathy and assertiveness.

A clear example can be the comments that are made in the post of Facebook on a topic or opinions. This is an incomplete communication process, in which any person can stop responding at any time, can answer without having read the messages that have been told before and can misinterpret the recipient or recipient of the phrases, among other things. That is why sometimes it falls into the overjustification of what is said, creating very extensive contributions that make the conversation slower .

Creating perfect avatars

Distance creates the opportunity to offer the public an ideal image of the self through profile photos, publications and others, but cognitive dissonances may appear between the "real me" and the "ideal me" that are somehow solved by temporary form by the social masks that the user may create, added to the development or expression of the ego itself.

We can find examples in publications in groups that could be social experiments, and if they were not, they are a great source of information about the communicative processes in social networks and how sympathies are configured to create new networks.

Groups of people in a city, pages with viral contents, etc. They contain information about the conversations and how the "I's" interact to show a desired public profile in the discussions. As banal examples of conflicts that can illustrate it, we find the replies to comments about the spelling, or how to reinforce the arguments the internet search engines are used making a copy and paste of concepts and quotes created by third parties .

All this facilitated by the comfort of home and the ease of accessing information on the network, as well as the security generated by the fact of not having in front of whom it is spoken.

New forms of harassment

It could also be studied in more depth the cases of cyberbullying , which personally remind me of Milgram's famous experiment on submission to authority (but in this case without a socially accepted authority figure).The processes of dissemination of responsibility are facilitated when people are not physically present, since comments can easily be deleted, why many people choose to take screenshots to be able to have evidence on cases of abuse .

These processes have been taking place for a long time, but the channel of communication and the context have changed making it more complex. In the communication by social networks there are multiple factors that determine the behavior of a person.

For that and much more, It is worth encouraging to reflect on how we can use social networks to improve our power of communication between people , beyond using them as a means of entertainment or to seek social acceptance through the image we want to show the public.

Depersonalization – Marshall McLuhan (April 2024).

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