Transaction Costs

Transaction Costs

Family group chats …

Jones and Hafner (2012:67) suggest that ‘written language still remains our primary tool for communication in online environments’. In terms of using Facebook messenger as a means of communication with more than one person, it is both a god send, and the most frustrating experience. But can I really blame messenger? Or do my family just not know anything about turn taking and topic shifts?

This particular conversation starting just like any other, no greeting (typical of text communication) and straight to the point.

For someone who has family living over seas, messenger is great way of updating your family with just a click of a button. Here, we are being shown pictures/videos of a family members new apartment. Whilst a video would seem to be the easiest way to show this, some members (my sister) had trouble playing the video…

Now, I’m not sure why she was unable to play the video as she has the same device as me, so this leads me to assume it was a fault on Facebook Messengers side. This meant she was unable to join in with the conversation to her full extent. Another point to mention is that with a text based group chat, the subject can easily be changed (shown above); this can possibly lead to miscommunication or misreading a conversation (e.g. this simple question above led to a long phone call from my brother asking whether or not I was pregnant).

Following on from this, the subject yet again changed to something completely different… 

It jumps straight into a conversation about cars with absolutely no signal. There are nine people in the group chat and only 4 of which knew what my sister was talking about. So this subject did require some contextual explanation, but none was offered. This could be an example of a possible constraint to this medium.

And finally, the conversation on that say ended with one simple message.

This confused all the participants, as we obviously had no clue who he was referencing to. Two of the participants live in Dubai so it was reasonable to deduce them from the equation. However, my sister and my mother were not sure which one of them he was addressing. This led to my mum texting my sister, then my sister ringing him in order to find out who he was talking to.

Facebook Messenger as a medium and means of communication is great. It allows for people to text synchronously at the click of a button. It also has features such as video chat, and audio calls in high definition so you can really feel like you’re speaking to someone face-to-face. It offers emojis, gifs, and memes attached to your keyboard so you can express yourself in any way imaginable. In addition to this, you can customize a variety of features; such as the group name, group photo, individual photos, and text box colours. (You can also customize nicknames but this has been set to default as these were slightly inappropriate). However, as mentioned above, there are a few constraints that I have identified in my examples used. But as I said, the blame can be placed more on my family, than the medium as a whole.


Jones & Hafner (2012) Understanding Digital Literacy

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