Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Rise of the Minority

5



     According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to be loved and accepted is right after our psychological and safety needs. In other words, after the safety and psychological aspect of an individual is being fulfilled, such as having shelter, food and healthcare, it is equally important to have attachment to a larger community, such as having friends and partners who share similar ideologies and experiences. As such, we are constantly finding new platforms to fulfill this need. 

     As we are living in the era of new media, a simple click on the search button enables Facebook users to find groups such as those of similar interests, religion or specific sexual orientation to acquire a sense of belonging. Most of the time, these groups that are readily available on Facebook are based on mainstream interests. In June 2015, the hashtags #LoveWins and #Pride flooded the News Feed of Facebook and profile pictures were updated with a rainbow overlay to foster an inclusive environment in which all are supported regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. However, things were not always like that back then. There are groups that were and still are perceived to deviate from the social norm such as groups that promote rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). As they are seen as being deviant, LGBT tend to make their sexual orientation something personal and private to avoid being judged by the public. 

     However, there are also those who are not afraid to express themselves differently even though they might receive negative responses from the so called “mainstream society”.  As of late, new media has become the ideal choice for people to voice out their opinions or in this case, to raise awareness on certain issues that they care for. This is due to new media being a public sphere that allows citizens to have greater access to information in an instant. There are various blogs, news and even magazines that focuses on the issue of LGBT.  For example, the two links below are blogs that talks about various issues of LGBT and are discussed through comments left on specific posts and everyone is allowed to participate as well as being entitled to their own opinions.

http://joemygod.blogspot.com/
http://queernewyorkblog.blogspot.my/

     The main purpose of the articles presented in these blogs is to raise awareness among public by discussing the news and issues regarding LGBT around the world, at the same time speak out for these minorities. As the authors of these blogs are from the United States of America, issues they discussed were in relation to what is going on at their place. Especially with the upcoming Presidential elections, they were critical of the stances of the politicians toward this matter and how these politicians could help or threaten their community. 

https://letsqueerthingsup.com/


The above link on the other hand provides readers with real accounts of LGBT that have faced discrimination due to this matter. This blog aims to show readers the pain and emotional abuse LGBT have to go through simply because of their sexual orientation and along with the experiences they share, they hope to be able to help those who can relate in order for them to pull through too. The author is also active in replying readers' comments and opinions. This could be explained through Castells’ resistance identities. According to Castells (2010), resistance identities are constructed as to seek recognition for stigmatised identities that do not enjoy a high symbolic and material statues. 
It gives individuals who are categorized in LGBT group an identity and through that, it helps these individuals to alleviate their feeling of loneliness and isolation as well as prevent them from being discriminated.

     Today, LGBT is no longer inferior and they are constantly fighting for their own rights. For instance, the approval of same sex marriage in America by President Barrack Obama in 2012 is an example on how identity gives voices and power to people. They can no longer be ignored or oppressed but to a certain extent, act as pressure groups to pressure the government especially in policy making. In this sense, new media plays a huge role as it acts as a channel to allow borderless connection of different individuals throughout the world and enable people from different places to unite as one based on their interests.

Reference:
Castells, M. (2010). The power of identity. (2nd ed.). West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lafferty, J. (2015). #Lovewins: How the same-sex marriage decision spread through social. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/lovewins-how-the-same-sex-marriage-decision-spread-through-social/622661







Saturday, 16 April 2016

Weapons of the Weak: Mobile Media

6


     Have you ever noticed the following behaviour in public spaces? In a crowded restaurant, while waiting for the food to be served, in the midst of all the noise, there is one person who is completely ignorant of his or her surroundings and is captivated by the content on their mobile devices. Indeed, with the development of mobile phones and the Internet, mobile media has taken over our lives and changed the way we interact with one another.  in 1977, cellular network was first introduced to the world and within a short period of time, it has changed people's lives forever. From less than 1 billion mobile cellular subscriptions in 2000, just last year in 2015, there are more than 7 billion mobile cellular users worldwide (Wei, 2013).

But here you might question, what exactly is mobile media?

     According to Wei (2013), mobile media is being defined as “a personal, interactive, internet-enabled and user-controlled portable platform that provides for the exchange of and sharing of personal and non-personal information among users who are inter-connected” (p. 52). Thus, mobile media includes a variety of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e-readers to game consoles.

     With the mobility of technology devices and the internet-abled accessibility, it is more convenient for people to bring it everywhere and remain connected by just clicking social media applications. Let’s be honest, we depend on our mobile phones or tablets almost in our daily tasks. Waking up every morning to our phone alarm, reading news updates from The Star mobile application, connecting with friends and family via social media apps, setting a reminder for an appointment, finding information via google apps, searching location via navigation apps, getting latest updates from work etc. There is no doubt that mobile phones have become embedded in our daily lives because it brings so much convenience to us. For instance, mobile media gives us the ability to spend time with our family members when we are not physically together. Indeed, mobile media allows us to stay connected with our family members and as a means to fulfill our obligations as a family member, however, some people might abuse it by not realizing when is the right time for using mobile phones. Before everyone has a smartphone, people tend to interact more while on the dining table by having conversations; nowadays, you might notice some will occasionally check their phones or being totally absorbed by the images or texts in their smartphones. As such, they may be physically close, but absolutely not mentally connected.

     Besides helping us with our daily tasks, mobile media has become increasingly important in work and employment. However, there is much debate on the usage of mobile media in working place, with the positive explanations on one hand and pessimistic accounts on the other. Recently, many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) adopted a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) scheme, which allows their employees to bring their own personal devices to work. Lowry and Moskos (2005) suggested that the usage of mobile media has blurred the lines between public and private domain. Some workers have failed to negotiate the boundaries between public and private domain, as a result, they felt a sense of identity dissonance and angst. Moreover, work intensification has also increased due to being on call 24/7 for work-related phone calls or updates via mobile phones.

     In light of positive accounts, workers are able to contact work colleagues when needed, solving problems ‘on the spot’ as well as exchanging business transactions via mobile media. Uber taxi is one of the best examples of doing business by harnessing new technologies such as smartphones, online payment system, GPS, identification and feedback system. Uber taxi adopted the concept of turning unused or under-used personal assets into resourceful assets. Thus, it allows people to earn extra income by providing ride-sharing services. According to Wallsten (2015), traditional taxi services have received many complaints from customers encompassing a range of poor services such as broken air-conditioning, impoliteness, broken credit card machines and talking on the phone while driving. However, due to monopolization of taxi services, customers had no other alternatives to choose other taxi services. That holds true until recently, with the rising of Uber taxi services available around the world, customers decided to switch to better companies instead of complaining. From here, we can see that mobile media plays an important role by giving business opportunities to people.

Mobile media and political event

     Today’s mobile communication has shifted to a new paradigm of human communication by putting users at the center of the interactive social platform. In other words, we have more democracy in choosing the kinds of information that we wish to receive. Besides, mass media was controlled by a few powerful institutions to disseminate information to users whom have no stake in participatory activities (Chaffee & Metzger, 2001). Mobile media is not just solely a communication tool but it also allows for the spreading of ideologies and social movements.

     The uprising in Egypt and Tunisia is a good example of political event that was facilitated by social media. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter has been used broadly in making the demonstration successful. These movements were clearly facilitated by mobile media, especially for foreign audiences, to build extensive networks, create social capital, and organize political action with the speed and scale that has never been seen before (United States Institute of Peace, 2012). Without mobile media, it is likely that fewer people would have shown up in that event. Thus, the role of mobile media is of utmost importance in spreading the uprising. Besides, mobile media acts as a platform for marginalized people to express their angst and injustice to the world by sharing graphic images and words on social media.

Can you think of any event that is facilitated by social media in Malaysia?


     In Malaysia, where mainstream media is tightly filtered and controlled by the government, a 38 year-old activist, Fahmi Reza has adopted a ‘visual disobedience’ method to raise awareness about political issues in Malaysia. Recently, Reza decided to draw Malaysia Prime minister as an ‘evil clown’ to indicate the scandals over state investment firms, 1MDB and the 2.6 billion donation transferred into the Prime Minister’s bank account. These images were shared virally to his 7,500 twitter followers and 43,500 Facebook followers with a hashtag of #kitasemuapenghasut, making him a target of the authorities. In just 30 days, 80 posters of Najib's clown face have appeared on public walls across 30 cities in Malaysia, which were removed instantly by the authorities. From here, we can see that Reza has utilized the power of social media to create awareness among Malaysians to stand up against injustice and corruption.

     In conclusion, we should reconceptualize the definition of mobile media as it is not merely a communication tool anymore in 21st century. The power of social media in implicating a political event should not be undermined and underestimated because users are gaining more autonomy in producing and distributing contents via social media.

References:

Chaffee, S., & Metzger, M. (2001). The end of mass communication? Mass Communication & Society, 4(4), 365-379.

Lowry, D., & Moskos, M. (2005). Hanging on the mobile phone: Experiencing work and spatial flexibility (Working Paper No. 153).  Retrieved from: http://socio.ch/mobile/lowry_moskos.pdf.

United States Institute of Peace. (2012). New media and conflict after the Arab Spring. Washington, United States Institute of Peace.

Wallsten, S. (2015). The competitive effects of the sharing economy: How is Uber changing taxis? Technology Policy Institute.

Wei, R. (2013). Mobile media: Coming of age with a big splash. Mobile Media & Communication, 1(1), 50-56.


Domination of News: Mainstream vs. Online

4


Syed Saddiq was a national pride when he displayed an impressive feat of being Asia’s best speaker three times in the renowned Asian British Parliamentary (ABP) Debating Championship. Recently, he made the headlines again for being a staunch supporter in rallying for the anti-Najib Declaration which is spearheaded by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The pride he carries in being a great speaker turned into a rather ironic situation as he was banned by four local universities from speaking. Syed's involvement in this declaration and his ban from speaking in universities soon became the talk of the town. This sparked a heated debate among Malaysians and people were quick to give their two cents on this matter either through the blogosphere world or through reporting in the mainstream news. However, there are differences in the way mainstream portals and online blogosphere cover this news.

Mainstream reporting tends to be more neutral in its writing and present their information in a matter of fact basis, perhaps this is due to the imposition of authoritative powers. In terms of mainstream news, the top story news when one searches for "Syed Saddiq" would be of him achieving Asia's best speaker award. Apart from that, mainstream articles on him are often opinions based on what Syed said and think himself instead of the public opinions of him. 

“I am not a flawless human being. I am also not a flawless Muslim. I, like every other human have made mistakes,” said Syed Saddiq.
Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/03/14/im-no-party-boy-says-banned-debater-syed-saddiq/

Mainstream news also try as much as possible to get the person involved to speak for themselves and in the case of Syed Saddiq, he was given a chance to explain himself especially in the clubbing scandal he was involved in. However, most mainstream print and broadcast media frequently report the same thing simultaneously and as such, becomes repetitive from one mainstream portal to another. 

While mainstream reporting is neutral in general, online blogosphere that covered Syed’s action and thoughts tend to be more aggressive in nature. The aggression varies from being angry with Syed’s opinions or being angry with the oppression the government is placing on him. Additionally, unofficial online posts tend to include personal opinions, especially in whether they think Syed’s action is right or wrong or contradictory in nature. 

"Saya berharap agar Syed Saddiq dapat tampil dan menafikan gambar-gambar ini sebagai palsu, photoshop yang sengaja digunakan untuk menjatuhkan kredibilitinya. Namun, sekiranya gambar ini didapati benar, maka saya memohon kepada pihak Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia untuk segera melakukan sesuatu agar perkara yang sama tidak berulang agar nama baik UIAM sebagai sebuah universiti ISLAM tidak tercemar oleh perbuatan sumbang sebegini." 

Retrieved from https://aidcnews.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/ketua-challenger-syed-saddiq-kaki-clubbing/

Public opinions although chosen with bias by the author are presented by placing snippets of opinions from various social media. Those that condemn his action on one hand literally cursed him immensely while those that supported him were also quick to curse, but towards the other party which is the government. Online news were also quick-witted as it contains hints of sarcasm from the authors themselves regarding this matter. It becomes very obvious from the beginning of the article whose side those blogosphere authors are on. With that said, although the credibility of online posts are to be questioned, they provide critical point of views and arguments to make readers question the reality of truth. Especially in this case, people are able to look at both sides of the coin before placing judgement on Syed's actions and thoughts. 

Although readers can easily judge a mainstream news from an online one, there are certain similarities or patterns between these two. Naturally, both news report events based on what happened in itself. However, there is an inclination for duplication of news. For instance, online reporting tend to copy partially what mainstream media has reported as an introduction to the readers and to give a brief idea on what the whole story is and at other times, it is the same report written in layman's terms. Additionally, both news uses the focal point or a click bait to attract readers and in this case, it is Syed Saddiq being the top debater. 



As such, what constitutes as bad practice in online news in this case is the way defamatory elements exists in the news reporting. Syed’s clubbing activities were mostly exposed in the blogosphere, became viral and caught the attention of mainstream news. The news spread rapidly in the blogosphere, so much so that it became more like a tabloid news with the purpose of tarnishing a person's reputation to gain readership. Due to the account of him clubbing, online news were upfront and confrontational in questioning his faith in Islam without bringing into context how it would have an influence over his stance on the government. The manner in which the news was reported in the blogosphere was more towards a personal attack on his integrity instead of focusing on the main matter, which is the cause he believes in. For instance, they were also criticising him for being unemployed and still living under the same roof as his parents. This is seen as a bad practice as it exposes people's private lives unnecessarily. 

A good online news practice on the other hand should provide assurance to readers on its credibility by ensuring consistent accurate information. A good online news practice also avoids any form of purposeful defamation towards an individual especially a private one for whatever personal gain in mind. As such, mainstream news can be seen to be slower in reporting the clubbing activities of Syed and when they do write up about it, it revolved around how his clubbing pictures were surfacing fast on blogs and what Syed has to say about it without imposing a judgment or virtue on it. In an event that a false statement was published or wrong information was gathered, journalists or blog authors should own up to the fact that they reported wrongly. However, to emphasise the previous point, this mistake is mostly avoidable by ensuring news reported has sufficient accurate data to back it up. Apart from factual reporting, being objective in reporting online news is a good practice as a journalist's main purpose is to report details of what happened instead of taking sides and giving verdicts which could influence a reader's opinion. 

As both mainstream and online news have its pros and cons, it is recommended for people to read on both sides. There are certain elements in online news that are not present in mainstream news such as opinion. Opinion is important in shaping and influencing people's perceptions towards a certain matter. Although opinions can be provocative, it enables readers to critically view the matter. Mainstream news on the contrary, have the upper hand of being more credible as it tries to remove viewpoints of the journalist. Ultimately, it is up to the readers to decide on which news portal to be more reliable and take things with a pinch of salt. 


References:

Abdullah, M. K. (2016, March 31). Democracy doesn't stop after reps get selected, top debater tells Bung. Retrieved from http://malaysiansmustknowthetruth.blogspot.my/2016/03/democracy-doesnt-stop-after-reps-get.html


Divakaran, P. (2016, March 14). I'm no party boy, says banned debater Syed Saddiq. The Star Online. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/03/14/im-no-party-boy-says-banned-debater-syed-saddiq/



Kumar, K. (2016, March 27). 10 things about: Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, Asia's top debater. The Star Online. Retrieved from http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/10-things-about-syed-saddiq-abdul-rahman-asias-top-debater



Murad, D. (2015, October 28). Syed Saddiq is again Asia's best debater. The Star Online. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2015/10/28/syed-saddiq-makes-it-three-in-a-row-in-asia-best-speaker/



Jelapang. (2015, October 9). Syed Saddiq: Najib memalukan negara. Retrieved from http://kedahku.blogspot.my/2015/10/syed-saddiq-najib-memalukan-negara.html

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Is New Media The Way to Go?

3


With the world at the end of our fingertips, our usual medium of obtaining external news have been revolutionized. The library is not the only place where readers can access information anymore and newspapers are not the only medium for us to be updated with the latest news. Technology brought along convenience and accessibility to mankind, as well as drastic changes to our routine. With the evolution of new media, the younger generation definitely prefers to indulge in new media for online learning and entertainment purposes.

But wait…What is new media?

According to Creeber and Martin (2009), new media is what we use to manage our rapid changing information and technology. The NOKIA 3310 phone could be seen as a communication tool for people in the past, but today in the changing world, new media only comprises of specific devices with a built-in system of applications. Hence, there is no fixed definition for defining the term ‘new media’. 


Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/mozahid211/new-media-in-broadcasting

The term new media is commonly associated with advanced technology whereby the ‘old’ media is slowly being transformed by using digital technique. For example, the printed newspaper has been transformed to online news and online publications by making use of the technologies with digital software such as Adobe Photoshop. Yet, have you ever thought of what is our relationship with new media? How does it affect our society?


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2000-2015: ICT revolution and remaining gaps. Retrieved from http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/facts/default.aspx
        New media is designed for the general use of the public, but not everyone has access to it. In addition, the invention of this new technology has caused inequalities in a way that has caused digital marginalisation of disadvantaged groups in the world of media (Creeber & Martin, 2009). In other words, those who do not have access to any digital media will be separated from those who has access to the internet. In the mid-1990s, the term digital divide has been introduced to depict the gap between those who have access to computers and the Internet and those who do not. According to Creeber and Martin (2009), it is a kind of imbalanced phenomenon caused by technology literacy by the information-poor people around the world. “When disadvantaged groups log on, they often find that there is no content there…” (Servon, 2002, p. 9). 

Here arises another question. What if those who are able to access internet do not know how to utilise this facility? Are they also victims of this digital marginalisation? 

        In this sense, skills and motivations are elements that influence individuals’ participation and social exclusion which replicate them into the digital world (Helsper, 2011). This means that even though you have access to the internet, but if are not technologically literate, you will still remain marginalised in the digital world. This is because digital divide also reflected those who has the ability to access internet but without basic knowledge in understanding the complexity of the new media. The emergence of new media has greatly influenced our lives, no matter good or bad. Undeniably, it made our life easier in arranging information but there are few dimensions for the inequalities from technical means, autonomy of use, use patterns, social support and skills. With this, Uniquecorn has developed a simple questionnaire to find out how is new media playing its roles in our society. 

What did we find out??

From the responses of our online questionnaire, majority of the respondents belong to generation Y which is aged between 16 to 36 years old and most of them are students. Our main target respondents are students, which we assume to be the main users of new media. 





Furthermore, we found that 90% of the respondents have more than one internet-enabled mobile devices where they currently used for online activity. In other words, most of them are willing to spend time and money on their mobile devices so that they can engaged in the media world. However, all the respondents agreed with the negative impacts of new media.  

With this, most of our respondents commented that we are more likely to spend more time on new media and it has definitely benefited our life whereby we can simply keep in touch with friends and family who are in long distance and sharing our life stories though social media platform. For example, people nowadays can socialize by accessing social media sites such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It is undeniable that we are able to communicate in borderless world. Although it has become part and parcel of our lives, there are some respondents commented that the freedom in new media allows people to simply update some improper information and it might not be trusted. Hence, there is a need for us to identify what is true and what is wrong by our rational thought. However, when you follow blindly as the content showing on the website, it might influence one’s own judgement and perspective to certain things. In other words, the engagement in digital world has made our life convenient but it might bring some bad impact to our life as well. 

On the other hand, people are also spending too much time on the internet. Have you ever felt bored of talking to your friends for more than 4 hours? I bet you will feel lifeless if you spend too much time for talking nonsense with your friends isn’t it? Ironically, people prefer to spend most of their time with their internet-enable mobile devices rather than the face-to-face interaction. From the questionnaire, we identified their consumption behaviour whereby all of our respondents will spend more than 1 hour per day while 50% of them will definitely spend more than 4 hours in the internet world. 

Here you might ask, what do they usually use their internet-enabled mobile device for? With this, we found that there is 85% of our respondents usually obtaining certain information, checking email and engage with their social networking by access to the internet whereas 80% of them will use their mobile device for listening to music and text messaging such as Whatsapp, Messanger and WeChat. This is how people make use of new media and internet in enhancing their social relationship with friends and family. Besides, the most popular social media website visited by the respondents is Facebook where there is 95% of them will actively visit Facebook while there is small number of respondents spend their time in Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+

Yes, the rapid development of new technology is awesome and it benefiting our society! (It is 100% agreed by all of our respondents too) Nevertheless, 70% of our respondents think that the advanced new media has created further social inequalities within our society where it will influence our employment opportunity if we are not familiar with the digital world. With technology literacy, there will be a widening of wage gap between those who are good in tech-savvy and those who are not especially for those who are staying in rural area where the geography factor might not allow the them to access internet. Hence, the wage gap between the rich and the poor will increase. It is unsurprising that the rich will become richer while the poor will become poorer or maintain its poor just because of the technology literacy. 

It is good to have an improvement for our life but, it might be unfair for those who are not able to access the internet. With this, what are the suggestion that we normal people can personally contribute towards social equality? It’s glad that our respondents willing to recommend their ideas for our topic today. From the recommendations collected, most of them think that there is a need to provide equal opportunity for everyone in accessing to the internet so that the digital divide can be reduced. However, with the limited ability, we can only try to help those who are lack of basic knowledge about the new media and teach them the way to access the new media platforms. Only through improvement in technology knowledge, social equality can only be exposed through the platform of media efficiently. In addition, English is the common use language in the new media nowadays. Hence, it would be better if we can improve our English standard in daily life where it may help us in dealing with new media sources. In short, new media is good. But if you do not know how to utilise it, you might not be benefited from it. Yet, if you did not make use of the new media correctly, you might also become the victim of it. 

Hence, learn properly and think wisely.


References

Creeber, G., & Martin, R. (2009). Digital Cultures. New York, NY: Open University Press.
Helsper, E. (2011). Digital disconnect: Issues of social exclusion, vulnerability and digital (dis)engagement. European Workshop: Perspectives of Web 2.0 for Citizenship Education in Europe. Networking European Citizenship Education (NECE).
Servon, L. (2002). Redefining the Digital Divide: Technology, Community and Public Policy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.




Sunday, 13 March 2016

Eternally Connected

4

As the number of internet users continues on its current trajectory of growth, we find ourselves in a unique position in this globalized, interconnected digital media industry. In 2015, there are 3.2 billion internet users in the world, which is a rapid growth from 400 million users in year 2000 (International Telecommunication Union, 2015). Thanks to our predecessors, a major portion of our society stays connected to the internet to keep in touch with one another without taking into account differences in time and space. Digital content is constantly being redefined by various institutions no matter how much we try to deny it. By now, we should all realize that most of our engagement in this world of strangers is ubiquitously through one single platform – the social media. With a click on the button, trending topics shift within a matter of minutes, and it becomes a drug to constantly find out what other people are doing. What’s she eating for lunch? What did she wear today? Where did he go for his honeymoon? Which girl is his new girlfriend? These may just be some of the thoughts drifting in our minds as our finger mindlessly scroll up, up, up, which brings us to our topic today; computer-mediated communication (CMC).


Influence of media on our daily lives. Retrieved from: http://lonerwolf.com/technology-disconnects/
What is CMC?

Many people feel shy and awkward to have face-to-face conversations with strangers or friends whom you’re not really close with, and if possible you’d prefer to converse with them through WhatsApp or Facebook messenger as you feel more comfortable with it. This is one of the example on how we are engaged in CMC --to interact with each other via tools, gadgets, applications, software and other mediums. CMC refers to any form of communication between two or more individual people who interact and influence each other via separate computers through the Internet or a network connection by using social software (Irala & Torres, 2008). There are basically two types of CMC which are asynchronous communication (delayed time) and synchronous communication (real-time).

Asynchronous communication is independent of real-time whereby what you’re watching, listening or reading through your phone screen or laptop screen is not happening parallel to real time. For example, composing an email to apply for job is a form of asynchronous communication. Why is it so? Firstly, you’re taking your time to compose that email and read through it over and over again to make sure you do not make errors or mistakes in your email and you only send it after you are confident with your email. Meanwhile, the recipient would not receive your mail while you’re composing it until you decided to send it. Secondly, your recipient might not response to your email immediately. There’s a time lapse between the interactions.  

Synchronous communication, on the other hand, happens concurrently - individuals are having real time interaction. For example, watching live football match through online streaming. Even though the event might be happening in Brazil, you, as a football fan from other part of the world who are watching the live match in front of your laptop is considered as a form of synchronous communication because you’re actually watching the same event at the same time with those people in Brazil! Time and space are compressed to become parallel.

Within these forms of communication, there are also underlying theories that could further explain these. 

Social Presence Theory was originally defined as “the degree of salience of the other person in the interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal relationships.” by Short, Williams and Christie (1976)This theory suggests that CMC have a different capacity in delivering non-verbal communication. Taking the email composing activity as an example, the recipient would never know your emotion while you’re composing that email because he or she could not read your non-verbal message through your email! In this sense, there would be less socio-emotional content. How different this is as compared to face-to-face interaction. There is no need to worry for slip of the tongue, because there is always space to fix your mistakes before hitting that "Send" button.

However, this is not always the case. As our Information Technology (IT) continues to be developed, information can now be transferred without being distorted, through the Media Richness Theory. One of the example would be the use of Skype as a communicating tool. Nowadays, many employers accept online interview during intake of new employees whereby candidates could be interviewed through Skype instead of walk-in interview, which saves employers and candidates a whole lot of time. In a way, it creates this idea of a borderless world where all of us are interconnected and just a click away.

How does it affect us?


The question that leaves us wondering is not whether CMC is good or bad for us, because let's face it, everybody has had different experiences with CMC, but the bigger question now is how is CMC going to affect us in the future? Stemming from our social media platform, a new word or phenomena is found - FoMo (Fear of Missing Out). It is the feeling of anxiety that something more interesting or exciting is happening elsewhere. While the word is rather new, this feeling is as old as time, but it is lately being reinforced with the increasing accessibility of social media. It is this feeling of FoMo that drives us to constantly document what we are doing in order to "look cool" or gain more likes on social media. It becomes a competition on who is having a better life out there? 


According to a study on Przybylski et al. (2013), they have found that three-quarters of repondents experienced FoMo and those who frequently use social media have a lower life satisfaction. What does this study tell us? Is this constant CMC affecting us on a subconscious basis that we are not even aware of? It is crucial to always remind ourselves that what we see of others online is not a real representation of their life. In fact, it is far from that. It is a pretty package meant to show people only positive aspects of their lives. Nobody is always happy, partying, travelling and eating good food. All the negative aspects that one experiences are kept hidden, away from the eyes of the public for fear of negative connotations of one's self. Therefore, by understanding the feeling of our fear of missing out, and what truly constitutes the truth, it can help us deal with it by finding positive ways to feel happy without a constant fear of what others are doing.


References:
International Telecommunication Union. (2015). ICT Facts & Figures. Geneva: International Telecommunication Union.

Irala, E. A., & Torres, P. L. (2008). The use of the CMC tool AMANDA for the teaching of English. In R. Marriot & P. L. Torres (Eds.). Handbook of research on E-learning methodologies for language acquisition (pp. 291-306). New York: Information Science Reference

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