People are social creatures. We love to interact with one another when the environment feels safe and comfortable. Even the individuals who embrace their introverted lifestyle enjoy spending time with their family and close friends. Our need to communicate with one another is as essential as our requirements for food, clothing and shelter.
There are always exceptions to every rule, so there are a few people who live by themselves, rarely interact with others, and are happy with that structure in their life. For everyone else, cyber communication is an effective tool that allows us to “speak” with one another in a variety of different ways.
Many of the cyber communication tools that are available right now are items that we use every day without even thinking about it. Did you send out an email today to someone? Was there an interesting article that you read online that you shared on your social media page? These are both forms of cyber communication.
Forums, chat rooms, and various forms of conferencing all make it possible for us to communicate quickly and easily with one another from anywhere in the world. Even if we interact less in-person with others, or electronic resources make it possible to communicate with others more than at any other point in human history.
These are the cyber communication pros and cons to consider when looking at the past, present, and future of what this technology provides us as a society.
List of the Pros of Cyber Communication
1. Cyber communication offers individuals higher levels of flexibility.
When you are able to communicate with other people online, then you have the opportunity to speak with other people at a time that is convenient for you and them. This asset is available 24/7 to ensure that any information you need to send to someone can be viewed. The only requirement necessary to take advantage of the benefits of cyber communication is an Internet or cellular data connection.
2. There are multiple methods of communication available.
Most people prefer to communicate via text messaging today over any other communication method that is available online. This desire is so strong that 54% of Millennials say that they would prefer to conduct any customer service activities that are necessary over a chat or text-based function. Thanks to faster connection speeds and an increase in technology options, there are additional ways to communicate online today as well. You can place a video call, speak over VoIP, or use a service like Skype which allows you to perform all three functions at once if you wish.
3. It levels the playing field for everyone.
Cyber communication makes it possible for people to feel comfortable in their homes, offices, or remote locations while still having an opportunity to speak with others. You get to collaborate while being online without having the “extrovert” qualities necessary to have your message get across to others like some face-to-face meetings require. That means this form of communicating levels the playing field because it allows those who prefer to be reserved to have an opportunity to speak just as loudly as anyone else who happens to be on the line at that moment.
4. It creates a paper trail that verifies the information exchange.
When you have a face-to-face conversation with someone, then the only ways to keep a record of that situation are to record your voices or take notes about what was said. Using cyber communication gives you a distinct advantage because it documents everything that you discuss, even if you are using a video call to exchange information. You can record the video on your computer or personal device to replay it whenever you need to go back to reference something.
If you use cyber communication with a text-based option, then you can print the conversation to keep as a hardcopy or save it as a PDF to maintain your records as a file. Your discussions are long-lasting and can be revisited indefinitely unless the file is deleted or corrupted in some way.
5. Cyber communication allows for personal reflection.
When you are sitting in a face-to-face meeting, the leader of the group might call on someone at any time to have them offer an opinion or idea about the subject matter under discussion. Putting someone on the spot can be an overwhelming experience for many individuals when they encounter it. This issue can reduce the quality of information that everyone receives as well. When you use cyber communication as a tool, then it becomes possible to encourage reflection within the group. Participants in this process are no longer forced to contribute until they have had enough time to think about the issue and are ready to share their observations with everyone else.
6. It provides a way to share evidence to provide relevance to an opinion.
One of the most significant advantages that we have with cyber communication is that we can share specific items of evidence that support our perspectives and opinions. This forum gives us an opportunity where we can share real-life examples and stories about what is happening in the world today. When people have the opportunity to share their unique perspectives, then we can begin to build a foundation of knowledge that benefits everyone. Even the skeptics can read through the evidentiary information and come to their own conclusion (including a different one) if they wish.
7. There are multiple choices available for cyber communication.
You can choose to communicate in whatever way is comfortable for your needs when you have access to an online connection. It is a place where you can ask a quick question if you want. There are opportunities to create a long, reflective account of a situation if that is your preference. You can create professional opportunities by networking with others. We can use online tools to share pictures of our family, updates about our life, or the experiences that we enjoyed on our vacation.
When we take advantage of the cyber communication tools which are available to us today, then we can collaborate in whatever way suits our needs the best at that moment.
8. Cyber communication helps to develop a community.
When you are communicating with the same people over an extended time, then you can begin to develop a community of supportive individuals who prioritize the interactions that occur online. Even if you never have the chance to meet these people in person, it feels like they are exceptionally close to you. They hold the same priority as a close friend or co-worker in your life. That means you have access to a support network which can help you to get through a challenging experience in your life, even if all you’re doing is tapping out a message on a keyboard.
9. It offers unlimited potential.
When you are participating in cyber communication, then you never really know where the discussion might go. That means you can benefit from the unexpected results of knowledge in a different area being passed along to you. The opportunities for an increase in incidental learning are much higher because of this tool.
10. There is an opportunity to edit your communication.
How many times have you said something to someone before entirely thinking through what words you should be using? When we have access to cyber communication tools, then there is an opportunity to edit what we are trying to share with someone else. Even talking on the phone can leave you without much time to consider what needs to be said. When you take the time to carefully review your text before sending it to someone, then it becomes possible to limit the misunderstandings or emotional reactions that can lead to ill feelings.
List of the Cons of Cyber Communication
1. It requires individuals to have usable knowledge of technology.
Most forms of cyber communication involve inputting text into a computer or mobile device. Although there are dictation programs, apps, and software that can help you speak-to-text as a way to communicate online, these options are not available to everyone. If a person has a physical disability which limits their ability to type, then they would be unable to use this tool as a way to speak with others.
There would also be limitations placed on people who have poor keyboarding skills, an inability to write, or lack a fast connection that would allow for voice or video conferencing as an alternative form of communication.
2. Cyber communication reduces the information we receive.
For the average person, up to 90% of the communication that they receive from another individual involves non-verbal cues. We can obtain more data about a discussion point from the tone of voice a person uses, how they sit or stand when communicating, and even from their facial expression. If you are using a text-based communication service online, then many of these cues are lost. That is why it is easier to misinterpret what someone is trying to say when they make a Facebook post or send a text message than it is when you have a face-to-face conversation.
Even when there is video conferencing happening, it can be challenging to pick up on the subtle gestures or facial expressions that people deliver. That means there is always a higher risk of a misunderstanding when using cyber communication.
3. It can cause people to go into information overload.
The average person already processes the equivalent of 40 GB of data every day from the various stimuli they encounter. That level of information overload causes the individual to start ignoring information that they believe to be irrelevant as a way to focus on the critical data points that surround them. When there is a significant volume of messages come through to a person thanks to cyber communication, then the experience can be overwhelming at times. The various conversations that occur can be challenging to follow.
This disadvantage can even lead to higher levels of stress for the people involved. When there are multiple lines of communication being juggled, this technology can cause someone to experience burnout quickly.
4. Cyber communication requires people to stay on the same thread.
We’ve all encountered a face-to-face conversation that begins about an issue at work and then ends with a passion discussion about cacti. It happens. The human brain picks up on a tangent, and then decides to run with it as a way to explore new information. When you have multiple people all exploring different tangents through their cyber communication, then it becomes almost impossible to follow along with the sequence of the discussion. Then add in the issue of individuals jumping into a conversation mid-stream and this process can quickly become inefficient for the individuals involved.
5. It creates an issue of false expediency.
When you log onto your cyber communication accounts once per day, then the conversations that took place when you are offline can leave you trying to catch up quickly. If someone asks you a question online, there is an expectation of an immediate response. One of the most significant disadvantages that has developed in recent years with cyber communication is that people expect instant gratification for their comments and questions.
According to information published by Rakuten, 95% of texts are read within 3 minutes of them being spent. The average adult spends 23 hours of their week texting, which means there are numerous conversations happening at once. The average response time is just 90 seconds. Even if someone takes 10 minutes to get back to you, the structure of cyber communication can make that time feel like it is an eternity.
6. Cyber communication can be inefficient.
When you are texting someone online, then the conversation you have with that person takes a lot longer than if you had a face-to-face conversation. This disadvantage applies to chat boxes, emails, and comments left on social media posts as well. When you read a long message, then it can be challenging to reply to all of the vital points that are being made by the other people involved. That means you can unintentionally leave some questions unanswered.
Who hasn’t forgotten to attach a document or spreadsheet to an email, and then had to follow the first message with another one to provide the correct information?
7. It is a tool which can lead to isolation.
Some people prefer to learn new things on their own. They want to experience their individuality and are comfortable in their skin. You will see their login credentials on your cyber communication platform of choice, but that is the only evidence of their participation. These people often struggle with issues of isolation because they are not really part of the group. Although some of them never will be either, the impact of isolation can be devastating to a collaboration effort.
The health impacts of social isolation are just as strong as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. Because of cyber communication, it is not as easy to see the people who might be on the outside wanting to come in to join you.
8. Cyber communication can be a directionless tool.
You will find that many people who are in an online group discussion of any type will not know what to do unless there is someone available to offer instructions. If a leader does not emerge from the shadows of a cyber discussion, then everyone in the group may find themselves experiencing a directionless conversation. That means you might be sharing information with one another, but it creates a path that eventually leads to nowhere.
9. It reduces the depth of the conversations that are held.
Because cyber communication usually involves tidbits of information instead of an entire composition, it can be challenging to have an in-depth conversation with someone using this medium. There are few opportunities to dig into the deeper levels of meaning that may be present for the subject matter being covered. That means your chats are typically closer to small-talk or surface-level conversations instead of something that allows you both to grow from the experience.
10. Cyber communication creates less down time.
People feel committed to the conversations they have with other people. Because there is an enhanced ability to speak with someone through cyber communication, it is more challenging than ever before to step away from work or emotionally draining situations. Even when you’re not at work, there is an excellent chance that your smartphone connects to your professional email. The desire to stay up-to-date on relevant information reduces the amount of time that people can spend with their families each week.
The pros and cons of cyber communication help us to see that collaboration efforts, exposure to new ideas, and new ways to network create many positives for our world today. It is up to each of us to manage the negatives that we can encounter with this tool to prevent mental burnout from happening. There are times when unplugging may be necessary for our health. If we manage our options wisely, this tool will take us toward the next golden age of humanity.
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