- Based on your experience in various cyberspace venues, do you think that ‘hyperpersonal’ communication exists?
I think that 'hyperpersonal' communication certainly exists – I form this opinion definitely based on my experience in cyberspace but also because the model logically makes sense. It has many more communicative advantages over face-to-face interaction, a few examples being that there is already an immediate similarity between the users as they share the liking for the same medium of communication, creating an immediate attraction between them. Also, unlike face-to-face, users have the opportunity to create a positive first impression of themselves – whether it be fake or real – but they can certainly make any kind of impact that they wish. This is hard in face-to-face communication as people are unbelievably judgemental based on appearance, whereas in CMC, this factor is excluded in communication over the internet. There is more attention and focus on the content of communication, which again is another advantage over face-to-face. With f2f interaction, factors like social cues and emotional cues tend to distract people away from focusing on the communication. A lot of people prefer to use cyberspace to communicate with others and these can be the main reasons why. As Walther said, 'hyperpersonal' communication is “more socially desirable than we tend to experience in parallel face-to-face interaction”. This is the reason why CMC is so popular.
An interesting study by Duthler (2006) found that, after analysing requests made via email and voicemail, overall the email requests were more polite than the voicemail requests. Voicemail users had less control over preparation, composing, editing, the execution of the message, and have to manage more nonverbal cues than those who used email. This study just proves another advantage that communication via cyberspace has over face-to-face interaction.
- Do you think group memberships are important to communication in cyberspace and why?
I think that group memberships are important to communication in cyberspace because cyberspace is much like the 'real' world, except different contexts and physicality's. However, in terms of things socially, it is still much a social based world. Society in the 'real' world is made up of different groups that people are a member of – literally and figuratively. So for cyberspace to be so popular still it needs to have those boundaries of group membership that exists in the 'real' world. Even just something as simple as joining an online forum. 'Groups' are distinguished in those as a result of the difference of opinions that the users have. Anonymity serves to only help people in cyberspace to become a part of any group that they wish – if they become a member of a forum, for example, that lets women talk about their experiences of abuse – it allows them to express their views within this group anonymously, disinhibited and without any responsibility for their words. Group memberships are just as, if not more important in cyberspace. It has the freedom for users to join without judgement.