Computers and Their Place in Human Communication

Technology specifically the use of computers has changed the way by which human beings communicate you can communicate with anyone across the globe instantly. It has changed the means of education where students and teachers meet virtually online through distance learning. It has also changed the form of doing business by business partners meeting online. These changes have affected face-to-face communication and communication generally. This paper covers the advantages of face-to-face communication, the advantages of computer-mediated communication, and the changes caused by this type of communication.

How computers have affected face to face communication negatively

Scholars have argued that computers are taking the place of face-to-face communication. Human beings are hiding behind technology to avoid solving problems such as family quarrels. When members in a family quarrel, you find one member going to blogs to find people to talk to instead of talking things out. This creates piles of problems as issues get swept under the carpet. People have been accused of spending more time on their online lives compared to face time, hence becoming distracted from real life.

Technology has made it harder for strangers in a room to interact and become friendlier with each other. This is because people now prefer to retreat to familiar people over the net using their phones. This is creating an anti-social society. People are not giving each other adequate face-to-face communication time.

Online communication is causing computer addiction. People are spending excessive hours in front of a computer screen. This is taking time off physical activities such as walking and jogging making society exercise less. This is unhealthy and also causing obesity issues.

How computers have affected face to face communication

Some people view the computer as connecting people more to each other. People are forming global communities. People in a similar for instance doctors all over the world can meet centrally on a website to talk about medical issues that affect them. Traditional forms of technology did not encourage discussions across continents. Computers help to maintain long distant friendships. Earlier it was difficult to maintain a friendship when you get separated with distance because it was cumbersome to write letters. Soon you lost touch and the friendship would end. This communication has enabled the formation of virtual communities. These are social aggregations formed over the net, the discussion uses emotion and can create a personal relationship in cyberspace (Rheingold p. 5).

Computers have enhanced face-to-face communication. It facilitated communication where there would be none (Foulger para. 3). This is because people can now meet strangers online who later become friends. With many social websites, people are forming friendships around the globe. For instance, if you make friends with someone in Africa, when you visit that continent you will meet face to face with this person. This has made the formation of friendships easier.

Technology has enabled one to see the person in a different continent face to face with the user computer. This is called video conferencing; it uses microphones, web cameras, and communication lines to transmit data from one person to the other. One can see the other person’s expressions of the person they are communicating with as if they are in the same room. The cheapness that comes with computer communication through the internet has enhanced face-to-face communication. One can easily schedule meetings over the net. As opposed to the traditional letters that would take ages before one communicates and obtains feedback.

The use of computer communication has changed the business environment. Cisco and Apple canceled sales training. They opted to have online training for its sales staff. Online meetings have been used to cut the cost of meeting physically with Global tech reducing physical events from eight to one between 2008 and 2009(Arslaner para. 2).

Computers have enhanced the communication of words that one would suppress in a conversation, it allow one to express one’s personality and reduce social inhibitions (Reid pp. 164-83). Some people prefer to meet strangers online to share crazy opinions which are exhibited in chartroom situations. These inhibitions caused by computers are causing asocial behavior (Kieslar, Zubrow, Moses & Geller para. 1).

Reasons why face to face is better than online communication

Face-to-face communication has several advantages over online communication. First, there is immediate feedback when communicating. When a person asks you a question you get feedback on the spot. This means that it is easier to seek clarification on what a person has said and you do not understand. You also get to see the non-verbal responses of the person.

The use of technology to replace face-to-face has been compared to chat rooms replacing real dating. No matter how much you talk online you will not feel close to a person if you do not connect face to face. You cannot hug or hold someone’s hand online but with face-to-face communication, the physical need for human touch is felt and fulfilled. The use of dialogue and personal touch is disappearing (Chuck para. 1). Executives are using email and instant messages as an easy way out to avoid face-to-face communication. Workers however prefer the use of face-to-face communication where they will receive more information compared to an email.

Reasons why online communication is better than face to face communication

In some situations, online communication is better for instance on discussion boards. When students are discussing issues online, there is the advantage of delaying feedback so that you think about your response. Another advantage is that there is reference material in case you forget what you are told. In a face-to-face conversation, it is difficult to have reference material if the person you were talking to is not around. Face to face has no record. Face-to-face communication easily phases awkward silence for instance when you run out of words to say. When using email and social networks, there is no awkward silence. You simply log out when you have nothing to say.

Technology has enabled very shy individuals to come out of their shells. It enables individuals to gain the confidence that they will need to make face to face communication. Online communication allows for anonymity. It covers human weaknesses such as shyness and low esteem. For example, the ugly person gets a chance to enjoy conversation without drawing unnecessary attention due to his looks.

This has also helped students to participate in online discussions. The internet encourages level participation in the conversation. Face-to-face conversation can be dominated by an individual.

This has helped in the education sector. Students are encouraged to participate in discussions on topics, unlike a physical classroom where some students opt to remain quiet. Computers have been using to increase dialogue among students and inject more energy into individuals (Hotelton para. 1). Discussions are carried out beyond the classroom using newsgroups and email.

Computer-aided communication has enabled emergency meetings to be held online. For instance, a manager in America can still meet the employees overseas in case of an emergency. Teleconferencing has also enabled companies to save on travel costs and time. There is no need to pay for expensive air tickets and one saves commuting time. Computer communication enables neutrality in judging ideas. The ideas are viewed at the same level it does not matter if the idea is of high status or not. The ideas proposed by people from a lower status are accepted in electronic discussion compared to face-to-face discussion.

A computer has enabled a more flexible learning situation compared to the traditional face-to-face. Students can learn online at their pace, time, and in a convenient location. With face-to-face learning, students had to be at a specific place and time to get an education. With online education, the lecturer can change content with a click of a button.

The computer has reduced face-to-face communication. With telecommuting workers do not have to be in the office physical space to be working. All they need is an internet connection or modem and they are at work. This means that workers will meet few times only when necessary, like during functions. After all, one cannot have a cocktail party with stakeholders online. This has saved the time being used to work because one can work from the house. Because people are becoming more environmentally conscious, telecommuting will save on fuel. The use of technology has encouraged faster decision-making. Information can be discussed and decisions made fast in the office environment. For instance, an online meeting can be scheduled by heads in different locations at short notice.

When face to face communication is better than computer-aided communication

Face-to-face communication is more effective in passing messages. It is more convincing to a person. Compared to email or call. It also shows the seriousness of a message which may not be felt using computer-mediated communication. Non-verbal communication reinforces the message this aspect is not easy to replace even with the most sophisticated technology. Computer technology-aided will never compare to face-to-face communication. You can never compare a genuine smile with an emoticon that one sends on a computer screen. Someone may be sad but uses the click of a button to give the widest smile ever.

With face-to-face communication, you are sure of the face of the person you are talking to. Over the internet, it is easier for a person to misrepresent himself. Computer-mediated communication creates online identities (Baym p. 9). These identities unfortunately may be false. A forty-year-old man may claim to be 29 years old and get away with the lie. This misrepresentation is dangerous in some cases. Pedophiles have been known to pose as children; they then find out details about a child online, trace them then sexually molest them.

Face-to-face communication enables physical contact. There lacks of physical connection when using the computer. Human beings need touch when communicating. Face-to-face communication enables hugging, holding hands, and patting a person on the shoulder. We communicate a lot through touch and computers do not enable such communication.

Once a message is sent online it is difficult to take back your word as it would be in a face to face communication. It is impossible to delete a nasty message that you have sent to a person’s inbox. When you post comments that you regret online it is difficult to take back what you have written. By then several people have viewed the comments you have made. When communicating online one cannot see nonverbal messages such as the tone of voice, facial expression, body movements. It is difficult to read real emotions through online messages.

There are higher volumes of data passed over than the net; people are getting overwhelmed by information. With face-to-face communication this is avoided, you easily handle the number of people you can manage. With computers, many messages need replies and data to be analyzed. Data personnel are working extra hours to meet the 24 hour needs of their customers.


There is no doubt that computers have transformed how we communicate. It has enabled communication where there would be none, it has enhanced the work environment and education for the better. People should take advantage of what computer-mediated communication offers with limits. Face-to-face communication cannot be replaced by the use of an artificial device. Human beings have physical and psychological needs that can only be met by face-to-face communication.

Works Cited

Arslaner, Bremt. Virtual meetings will replace face to face. 2010. Web.

Baym, Nancy. The Emergence of On-Line Community in Cybersociety: Revisiting Computer-Mediated Communication and Community, ed. Jones, S., USA: Sage Publications Inc., 1998.

Chuck, Martin. “The Importance of Face-to-Face Communication at Work.” 2007. Web.

Foulger, Davis. “Bridging Media: Computers and Human Communication.” 1992.  Web.

Hotelton, Richard. “The Semi-Virtual Composition Classroom: A Model for Techno-Amphibians.” 1997. Web.

Kiesler, Sara., Zubrow, David., Moses, Anne & Geller, Valerie. “Affect in computer-mediated communication: an experiment in synchronous terminal to terminal discussion.” 2010. Web.

Reid, Elizabeth. “Virtual Worlds: Culture and Imagination” in Cybersociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community, ed. Jones, S., USA: Sage Publications Inc., 1991.

Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, USA: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1993.

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