In Toward a Theoretical Framework of Relational Maintenance in Computer-Mediated Communication, Mason and Carr argue that computer mediated communication (CMC) is related to human interaction and provide theoretical frameworks that could give insight into relational maintenance.
The authors begin by explaining what relational maintenance is, which they define as “[keeping] a relationship in satisfactory condition”, and the authors argue that CMC technology has altered the platforms in which humans can maintain a relationship. A critical part of the argument is understanding social penetration theory (SPT), which looks at how the continued and reciprocal change of information affects relationships between partners, which they say makes it a good candidate for examining how the introduction of CMC affects relationships. Interestingly, the authors argue that CMC does provide a platform for deep relationships to form due to the ability to convey emotions (ex emojis, public display of information, etc). After explaining SPT, the authors delve into 6 key features of CMC that are related to relational maintenance: lightweight interactions, nature of disclo- sures, masspersonal spaces, social presence, ambient awareness, and algorithmic proximation. From these features, the authors argue that CMC does in fact facilitate relational maintenance because it is easy to use and communicate, it is ubiquitous, there is possibility for observational and ambient awareness of peers, and the ability for the algorithm to compare relational activities.
I found this piece interesting and intriguing, despite being unfamiliar with some of the terms. Overall, I agree that CMC interaction through social media does provide a platform for relational maintenance. However, I do wonder whether or not a relationship has to have been created face to face before maintaining a relationship virtually. Can we create relationships via social media platforms, or does the theory in the paper only apply to already existing and developing relationships? Personally, I am not sure that I would be able to begin a relationship from scratch simply from virtual and social media interactions.