9/21-Toward a Theoretical Framework of Relational Maintenance in Computer-Mediated Communication-Julia Duchossois

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.

4 thoughts on “9/21-Toward a Theoretical Framework of Relational Maintenance in Computer-Mediated Communication-Julia Duchossois

  1. I read a different article but after reading both yours and Grayson’s response about this article, I am beginning to understand the gist of the content. I think that maintaining a relationship online can be very helpful in the present day especially due to Covid, however, I too wonder if beginning a relationship online is sufficient in comparison to meeting in person. I agree that I doubt I would be able to begin a relationship from scratch but I do think it is useful to have these opportunities when people cannot be physically together.

  2. Julia, I read a different article that briefly focuses on CMC, so it is really interesting to read about CMC more in-depth. While I agree that it is easy to use and communicate, and therefore relationships develop, I am curious to see the strength of these relationships or if they are merely surface-leveled interactions. I agree with you and I do not think I would be able to develop a relationship from just a virtual interaction, so I am curious to explore examples of relationships that have developed from CMC.

  3. In the article I read, they also talked about certain technology, like CMC, and how it can impact how we form relationships. Reading your discussion and comparing it to the article I read, it’s really interesting to see what an impact technology can have on our lives and how influential it can be. Ultimately however, the influence of technology at times seems more negative than positive. As you mention, it’s difficult to know whether these relationships are strong or more surface level due to there being a lack of real-life connection.

  4. To add a bit of perspective to your last questions, I met my girlfriend a year ago on zoom in our marketing class in March and we ended up talking for 5 months before meeting in person, which is when we started to date. So, I do not know how sustainable it would be to completely maintain a relationship virtually, but I can speak to knowing that the potential of meeting in person certainly makes long virtual periods doable.

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