[Air-l] destroying friendships?

bakera at ohiou.edu bakera at ohiou.edu
Wed Apr 23 09:32:47 PDT 2003

While I agree with Nancy Baym and Steve Jones that a medium is 
incapable in itself of destroying friendships, I want to add that, in 
my view, characteristics of email can independently influence the 
communication process to some extent:

--The permanence or relatively long-lasting imprinting of words can 
sometimes affect people more deeply than words uttered in passing. 
Along with nonverbal softenings or qualifiers, people can more easily 
come back and say they weren't so serious about the opinion, or even 
that they had changed their minds.  With asynchronous conferencing 
and listservs or even logged synchronous writings from chat or IM's, 
the rereading of the words can possibly affect people differently 
than just hearing the words out loud.

--As several people have mentioned, reading the contrary thoughts 
sent to everyone on the list could provoke embarrassment as well as 
intellectual disagreement or anger.  For this reason, among others, 
I choose not to receive an individual's emails to a list of people 
whenever possible.  Actually I hope my postings here on the air-list 
do not in any way disrupt pleasant colleague relationships I may have 
established in the past.  :-)

Do we have research on negative sentiments or disagreements expressed 
f2f vs. email?  I know we have some good experimental studies 
comparing liking and self-disclosure for the two modes.

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