Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Social Anonymity

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When understanding group systems and analyzing the computer mediated communication ideology (CMC), one basic concept to understand is social impacts that these mediums have. One area of key focus is the social anonymity that is associated with CMC and its impact on society as a whole. As users begin to more frequently rely on computer based communications versus human based interactions, it can begin to appear to users that they are no longer communicating with another person but rather with a machine.

As mentioned by Kiesler, Siegel, and McGuire (1984), “Messages are depersonalized, inviting stronger or more unihibited text and more assertiveness in return. It might be especially hard to communicate liking or intimacy without writing unusually positive text.” This demonstrates that when communicating with other users with CMC, it is difficult to pass meaning, emotion, sarcasm or other human like behavior. This causes users to depersonalize their communication efforts, and could cause others to misinterpret the full meaning of the message being presented.

As techonolgy and research advances new ideas are being presented to bring humanization to CMC. Advanced video conferencing, sound, and emoticons demonstrate a few of these techniques that are beginning to bring the user back to interacting to other users as humans versus as machines. This allows a higher capacity of demonstrating emotion and feeling in communication which will bring more context to the written text.

Works Cited Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., & McGuire, T. W. (1984). Social Psychological Aspects of Computer-Mediated Communication. American Psychologist, 39(10), 1123-1134.