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Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships

Edited By Kevin B. Wright and Lynne M. Webb

This is the first collection of readings on computer-mediated communication focusing exclusively on interpersonal interactions. Examining messages exchanged via email, Twitter, Facebook, websites, and blogs, the authors analyze communication issues of ongoing importance in relationships including deception, disclosure, identity, influence, perception, privacy, sexual fidelity, and social support. The book examines subjects that attract intense student interest – including online performance of gender, online dating, and using computer-mediated communication to achieve family/work life balance – and will inspire further research and course development in the area of computer-mediated communication in personal relationships. Because it provides a synthesis of ideas at the nexus of interpersonal communication theory and computer-mediated communication theory, the book can serve as a textbook for advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses.
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12. CMC and the Conceptualization of “Friendship”: How Friendships Have Changed with the Advent of New Methods of Interpersonal Communication (Amy Janan Johnson / Jennifer A. H. Becker)



CMC and the Conceptualization of “Friendship”: How Friendships Have Changed with the Advent of New Methods of Interpersonal Communication

Amy Janan Johnson

Jennifer A. H. Becker

With many new channels of communication available, the ways individuals engage in interpersonal relationships are changing. Scholars interested in interpersonal communication must consider whether and how such changes affect the way they conceptualize and explore certain relational variables. For example, the advent and popularity of new technologies has dramatically increased the possibilities and expectations for sustaining close connections despite geographic distance (Adams, 1998). College students in particular are availing themselves of new technologies that allow them to communicate with their long-distance friends more easily (Pew Internet, 2002a). Pew Internet (2002a) found that 72% of college students from the United States reported they used the Internet mainly to communicate with friends, most commonly with friends from high school (35%), followed by friends on campus (24%), and friends off campus (20%).

These changes in the ways that individuals communicate with their friends lead to a need to re-examine theoretical concepts related to friendship (Adams, 1998). In the past, friendship has theoretically been viewed as a potentially fragile relationship (Fehr, 1999; Wiseman, 1986). Specifically, these traditional theories suggest that the lack of face-to-face contact resulting from greater distance has high maintenance costs. Hence, commitment dissipates, and the friendship moves towards its end. However, such views assume the primacy of face-to-face communication in interpersonal relationships, irrespective...

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