Online Conversation is to Oral Conversation as a Mask is to a Face

Nicholas Carr believes that, “Online conversation is to oral conversation as a mask is to a face.” This is a straightforward comparison: that conversing online is like having masks on, while conversing online is face to face. He suggests that you are unable to actually connect the person while you are talking to people over the internet. You are missing out on a lot while you are having conversations on the internet. You are missing visual and physical cues, such as, facial expression, gestures, essence, and tone of voice, that engage the parts of the brain that handle in-person social interaction. It is difficult to get emotion through the internet. Furthermore, the timing of our response is different; online we are able to have long pauses before we respond with more thought, while we have to respond quickly when we are having oral conversation. Online we have time to research and arrange important evidence before responding; while this tends to disrupt the flow with oral communication. You are able to construct your thoughts better with more time to respond. Carr compares online coversation to a mask because we are unable to express ourselves; with masks we are not able to give emotion or have any facial expressions. Also, when you are conversing online you are able to hide your identity and be anonymous, as you are with masks. This might hide the real identity of a person. However, online conversations allow you to say whatever you want without having to be nervous. Many people are able to express their feelings when they are having a conversation with the people they have feelings for. I think this thesis that Carr presents is a very clever comparison. We are able to clearly see a correspondence with the analogies he creates.

Do you prefer online or oral conversations?

Internet and Society.

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