The value of online chatting


Was chatting with someone today about why we like text chatting, price what it offers over face-to-face interaction or a phone call. I chat a lot both on fb and Skype, story with a select set of people (about a dozen). It’s a mixture of personal and professional stuff and there is usually a lot of emoticons and banter involved. I think there is something about the text medium, malady can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s definitely different from verbal communication. Interesting the way you convey emotions through emoticons, hashtags and putting things in brackets <just saying> <ducks> <looks innocent> ;-)

Some people aren’t comfortable doing this. For one thing you certainly need to be able to type fast, otherwise the flow of the conversation doesn’t work. I can get totally lost doing this and then suddenly I emerge finding that I have spent over two hours chatting with someone. My friend was saying that for him chatting like this has enabled him to get to know people much better; he said he feels that people disclose more about themselves in the chat environment. Why is that I wonder? Is it because you feel freer because you aren’t face-to-face? Is it something to do with the anonymity of the medium? Now don’t get me wrong, I am very much a face-to-face sort of person, but I do love interacting with people online. I have found that I have really developed friendships in this way, getting to know professional colleagues on a personal level to the point where I would call them friends. It’s also a great way to spark off new ideas. Indeed this blog post is a direct result of my conversation on fb this morning! 

6 Responses to “The value of online chatting”

  1. Cristina Costa Says:

    I totally agree with this… I can’t quiet explain it but I have got to known some people better by that medium and I think the use of emotions (wink, smiley face, (wasntme), etc) play an important role in it.

    I think synchronous text and emotions allows someone to express themselves better because although the communication is immediate we still spare a couple of seconds to think how we are going to react to a message…and because you want to make sure you are understood you use the emotion symbols to support it. I also think it is less intrusive. I am not anticipating what the other person is thinking because I can’t see their body language. Having said that, I think that our body language doesn’t always match what we thinking/feelng. For instance, in a face to face situation if someone tells me they got a new job and i am overjoyed by it, I will say “wow, excellent news. I am so happy for you and I smile…might even give them a hug”. Online I can also do a happy dance… :-) it shows my enthusiasm. Were I to do that in a physical space people would confirm I am mad, kind of a thing LOL

    I also spend quite a while using this medium. I think it allows me to express myself better. It also enables me to build confidence with some people I don’t know that well … hard o explain … :-)

  2. Gráinne Says:

    Good points Cristina and of course that is how we got to know each other ;-) I love the mix of professional chats and banter that occurs, find it really stimulating!

  3. Mark Childs Says:

    I think the lack of body language does help, I can focus on what I want to say not worry about getting the tone right, or the right facial expression. I think it also enables me to organise my thoughts better before they get communicated. Often when talking i get tongue-tied because i’m trying to edit as i talk, and am probably way more cautious, since i know if it comes out differently than i intended, it’s too late. Text offers far more opportunities for rehearsal and for reflection before hitting post or submit. Ultimately though, with many friends, it’s the only way to get a word in edgeways.

  4. Gráinne Says:

    lol re word in edgeways! You mean me right? ;-) Your points echo Cristina’s - interesting that despite the speed on sync texting there is still time for reflection and agree the lack of body language is an important element.

  5. Mike Harland Says:

    Use it all the time for chatting with relatives as well as sorting problems with colleagues while compiling dictionary.
    1) video is useless because you aren’t looking at the camera but at the other person’s image on the screen, so nobody has eye contact, which is very weird!
    2) text chat is written not spoken, so gains the quality of reflective thoughts, not spontaneous reactions
    3) errors in spoken conversation can certainly be corrected very quickly, but inefficiently and repetitive - fine for a friendly ‘empty’ chat, but not great for communicating really meaningful information
    4) text chat wins because replies can be made at any interval - I often go off for a coffee and reply when I get back - the other person does the same and we can still have a meaningful communication (it is understood that we are probably working while we chat, so we just carry on working until the other person replies - often the next day even!)
    5) spoken chat wins when you want instant replies, but the info may not be properly thought out or researched, so still a compromise
    6) in text chat nobody could care less about spelling, so typing speed is not that much of a handicap
    7) you can gossip just as much in text chat as you can in speech and only GCHQ/MI5 will know what you were talking about … {:O))

  6. Gráinne Says:

    LOL re GCHQ/MI5! Agree with all your points particularly No 2. Interesting how valuable text chatting has become!

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