Computer-mediated ‘Culture’: A Cultural Hack

by 7:37 PM 4 comments

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G'day, peeps!

Throughout the years, the many different means used to communicate with others, for example, letter-writing, telegram, telephone and even face-to-face speaking has added and welcomed yet another new member to their family which is computer-mediated communication (CMC). Continuing the discussion of CMC previously posted, this post will focus on a different capital C which stands for culture, focusing on the causal effects of CMC on our culture.

It is needless to say, with the recent phenomenon that, CMC have caused a cultural shift in our many lifestyles and habits. The times of awkward moments when we have to confront someone face-to-face to get our message along can now be substituted by computer-mediated communication. Confessing to your crush with a written love letter tucked in their shoe locker is now a thing of the past or found in movies. Dear John or Dear Jane letters (a.k.a breakup letters) are now written in WhatsApp, WeChat, and Line with the new generation of phubbers. (p.s. 'Phubber' is a term newly created from combining the two words 'phone' & 'snubber' which describes the type of people who have their face planted on their phone, above everything with the intention of ignoring their 3D surrounding).

Lack of Social Context Cues

Social sciences since the beginning of CMC have always been interested in its causal effect, especially the impact of CMC on culture. One of the electronic media theories explaining the difference between CMC and face-to-face communications, according to Griffin (2009),  is the lack of social context cues. Griffin explains that this theory claims that CMC users have become more self-centered and less restricted as they do not have an anchor to their relative status and there are no clear social guidelines regarding the norms for interaction. This is a similar perspective to the social presence theory as it argues that it is without social context cues that participants are deindividuated and thus behave in the way that they will derive from normative behavior (Thurlow, Lengel & Tomic, 2004).
According to Walther (2006), there are two consequential behaviors which say that, 

these states lead not only to colder and more task-oriented communication, but also to engage in flaming (name-calling, swearing or other uninhibited expressions) online and more attitude polarization (p. 259). 

It is precisely because of this absent in social context cues, social inhibitors are reduced and behaviors subsequently becomes more uninhibited which thus caused people to display less socially desirable behavior. The thing is people just simply become less concerned with others which reduce the needs to be liked and accepted by others, potentially creating conflicts such as the Merry EX-Mas case down below...

Merry EX-Mas

Once upon a time, on a snowy Christmas day, a man named Tom created a WhatsApp group, adding in Lisa, Gemma, Steph and Bella. He called the group Marry EX-mas, which as you can guess, turns out to be a group with his ex-girlfriends. For starters, can you imagine being in one room with all your EXes and surviving it? Well, maybe we couldn't in the past but now that there is a chat room, a man did. As we quote, his aim was for his exes to "...share some memories of me with each other as I am lonely this year and miss the lot of ya". But, as things go, the conversation turns out to be chaotic. If you are interested in the whole story, you can check out more about this little tidbit via Mirror News.

Thus, it is evident that our culture has indeed changed with the introduction of CMC with tweeting, snap-chatting, #selfie etc., which has all made us more connected to each other. But, at the same time, has it made us more distant as to not care about our impression on others or has it made us more truthful in our expressions? Yet, take to heart that being real and being mean are two different things. Lastly, we hope you can

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And that's the end! We hoped you enjoy reading about CMC. But before you disconnect, a question for your thoughts, 

"Is CMC making us real or making us mean?" 

Feel free to comment below.


Griffin, E. M. (2009). A first look at communication theory (7th ed.). NY: McGraw Hill 
          Companies, Inc.

Thurlow, C. Lengel, L., & Tomic, A. (2004). Computer-mediated communication: Social    
          interaction and the internet. London: Sage.

Walther, J. B. (2006). Nonverbal dynamics in computer-mediated communication, or :( 
          and the :('s with you, :) and you :). In V. Manusov & M. L. Patterson (Eds.), The Sage   
         Handbook of Nonverbal Communication (pp. 255-282). CA: The Sage Publications.


Life-long Learner

A group of ten Ansos students, comprising of Vivian, Ching, Steph, Mun Yee, Pik Lam, Siti, Joanna, Ludiah, Hidayat and Ardillah blogging about communication and technology, striving for an A in this course and having a snack while we are at it :)


  1. The answer for the question: it made us mean and real on the same is situational...

    1. Hi here~ do you mind to explain more of your own life experience? :D thanks~

  2. For me, when CMC used among the fellows friends or classmates, it is making me real as we are discussing about the course-works. However, i also use CMC with my online virtual friends. In this situation, I will a virtual identity.

    1. Hahas.... it is believe that so many people are experiencing this "double" even "triple" or more identity(ies) too.