Different media, Different Effect




Different Media, Different Effect

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Different Media, Different Effect

The internet and social media that have become available thanks to its expansion may be deemed an integral part of contemporary life. Modern people from all over the world cannot imagine their daily routine, as well as education and professional activities without the internet. In turn, social media may be used for a wide variety of purposes, including socialization and interaction with friends and total strangers who share common interests or want to discuss some interesting and topical issue. However, not all media are the same and they differ from each other in a number of ways. The current paper uses Bayms seven concepts for comparing two popular social media services with a view to determining what they have in common and what prominent differences may be detected. The media chosen for comparison are Facebook and Viber as the two media that are among the most popular ones employed for communication and socialization.

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Bayms seven concepts include interactivity, temporal structure, social cues, storage, replicability, reach, and mobility (Baym, 2010). In terms of interactivity, the two media are quite different. Viber allows communicating with one or a few people via messages or calls. In turn, Facebook allows posting information on ones own page or pages of other people, but it does not foresee active interaction. With respect to temporal structure, Viber is a medium of synchronous communication, while Facebook is a medium of asynchronous communication. Synchronous media like Viber enable instant sending and delivery of messages, as well as real-time communication between people. However, one of the major shortcomings of such media is their inability to allow many people to interact at once since even group calls in Viber have a limited number of participants. On the contrary, Facebook as an asynchronous social medium allows targeting of thousands if not millions of people and do not have this constraint as to the number of participants in the interaction. However, Facebook members are a sort of passive communicators as they cannot message or call each other and merely leave posts on each others pages. Nonetheless, these posts may be of versatile kinds and can take different forms, which broadens interaction possibilities.

In terms of social cues, the media under consideration are different as well. Viber does not provide for a wide range of social cues and users can only post their photos there. On the contrary, Facebook provides for various and multiple social cues that may take different forms. Photos, interests, GPS locations, update of profile information, as well as implied likes and dislikes enable others to learn a lot about a user as a personality. Besides, it is supposed that Facebook profiles reflect actual personality, not self-idealization (L.S. Goulet, lecture, February 4, 2015). Concerning storage and replicability, the media are slightly different. Viber is used primarily for free calls and messages, but it is not convenient and even possible to view all messages if the timespan is too long. There is no problem with reviewing relatively recent history of messaging. Viber for desktops may store a bit more information, but still it is not intended for such actions. In turn, Facebook storage capacities are huge and one can view posts from any period without notable restrictions. Facebook users can copy and share other peoples posts, hence granting this social platform a high degree of replicability. The two media are different with respect to reach as Viber provides for a limited reach, while Facebook allows virtually unlimited reach. The two media are similar in terms of mobility. A wide range of different modern devices that are highly mobile means that people have access to both Viber and Facebook from various locations. Moreover, Viber is predominantly intended for use on smartphones and other mobile devices, while its desktop version may be deemed an extension of the mobile one.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that virtual communities have today become of utmost importance for millions of people, especially in highly developed and developing countries with wide-spread availability of the internet. Howard Rheingold (1993) defines virtual communities as cultural aggregations that emerge when enough people bump into each other often enough in cyberspace. The notion of virtual communities is vital for understanding Facebook and mechanisms of socialization people employ in this social network. Facebook allows people tagging and adding friends to their network and sharing photos, videos, posts, and links with this chosen circle of social connections. However, not all people included in the list of friends may be really considered as friends in the conventional meaning as people often add strangers with whom they may share some social connections and interests or whom they find interesting enough to follow their activities and posts. Virtual communities in Viber are totally different from the ones in Facebook as this medium allows calling and texting people for free via the net connections, but these peoples numbers have to be known to reach them. Despite all differences of various social media, they share one major thing in common, which is their potential for making connections without regard to race, creed, gender or geography (Wellman & Gulia, 1997). As one survey proves, Facebook is among the most widely used social media platforms while Viber is less often exploited (L.S. Goulet, lecture, January 28, 2015). Nonetheless, Viber as a relatively new medium is definitely increasing its outreach due to its ability to partially substitute conventional phone services like calls and messages with the same, but free quality services thanks to the net connection.

Withal, the above comparative analysis shows that Viber and Facebook are quite different with respect to seven key concepts distinguished by Baym. Vibers major strengths are its mobility and synchronous character of communication, while Facebooks evident advantages consist in its reach, mobility, temporal structure, storage, and social cues. However, Facebook provides for asynchronous communication and everything its users do is visible to others. Thus, the two social media are used for different purposes and users who have access to both of them can enjoy more advantages of the contemporary digital era than those who prefer only one.

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