Four modes of communication determine how you engage with your fellow humans when not sharing the same physical space: physical interaction, text messages, voice calls, and video chat. Let’s look at their merits and drawbacks to come up with a mode of communication that combines the best of all worlds.
Texting Vs Video Messaging
The current primacy of text is indisputable. Texting is a fast and convenient way to communicate with others. It allows you to send a message instantly and receive a response in real time. It lets you communicate without disturbing the other person. All the comments that one would leave on audiovisual and text content, the tweets you send and reply to, all happen in the form of text.
While text allows the safety to voice one’s opinion without showing themselves, it also leads to much of the toxicity of online culture. Comments are often insulting and hurtful, spreading negativity, even leading to mental health issues.
As this 2021 article by Maite Taboada discusses, “many people do not shy away from having their very public identity associated with toxicity and harassment”. And one of the primary reasons for this, the article goes on to say, is the “online disinhibition effect” — “the lack of visibility and the lack of face-to-face interaction and visual cues that place us one step removed from one another.”
Intuitively, this makes sense, doesn’t it? You would be much more likely to write something rude to someone rather than say it to their face since that would have a much higher chance of escalating and leading to a full-blown confrontation. Text allows people to ruin each other’s day with impunity.
Video messaging, on the other hand, allows for more effective communication; the ability to share experiences, and more engaging and entertaining communication. So, while text messaging remains the most common form of communication, video messaging offers a number of benefits that cannot be matched by text.
Let’s elaborate on some of these benefits for you.
Benefits of Video Communication
Video messaging allows for a more personal and intimate form of communication. It allows you to see and hear the person you are communicating with. This can help to create a deeper connection between people and can lead to more meaningful conversations.
One study asked participants to reconnect with old friends either through email or phone calls, while other participants in a lab setting were asked to connect with strangers using text, video chat, or voice chat. The results of the study indicated that the “interactions including voice (phone, video chat, and voice chat) created stronger social bonds”. As the study indicated, this is true even for strangers who connect for the first time through video chat.
Video messaging allows for more effective and less misinterpreted communication. When you communicate through text, you can sometimes incorrectly interpret the tone or intent of the message. With video messaging, you can see and hear the person’s tone of voice and body language, which can help avoid misunderstanding. This can be particularly important in professional settings, where clear communication is essential.
Seeing the interlocutor’s face while speaking to someone online reduces the online disinhibition effect discussed earlier. As a result, you become much more sensitive to the other person’s reactions to what you are saying, and this makes you more sympathetic as well. Greater sympathy during communication leads to the creation of stronger bonds and deeper communication. Such communication has benefits on various levels, the primary one being the benefit to well-being. As a study published by the Association for Psychological Science declares, “Well-being is related to having less small talk and more substantive conversations.” Put simply, deeper communication leads to more happiness.
Another advantage of video messaging is that it can save time. With video messaging, you can convey information more quickly and efficiently. This can be particularly useful in situations where time is of the essence, such as when making important decisions or coordinating plans.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous
A major factor that still prevents people from engaging in video conversations is the social awkwardness of being face-to-face with a stranger. You dread the uncomfortable pauses and the performance pressure that come into play when interacting in real time. You may blank out or be unable to formulate your thoughts clearly, especially if you want to communicate your views on something. Synchronicity is the problem here.
Asynchronous video — that is, video that is not live — would be a solution to this problem. Imagine being able to respond to a clip that you like by shooting a video of yourself with your responses. You can express yourself freely, taking the time you need to formulate your thoughts and even with multiple takes, if you feel the need to do that. This combines the best of both worlds.
It preserves the benefits of video communication. It can convey tone and expression, it can share the paralinguistic cues that accompany speech, and create greater sympathy and stronger social bonds. It also removes the performance pressure associated with live communication. While in the workspace it has various applications, such as not hampering productivity and providing for different time zones, it can be a useful tool for social media as well.
A Platform for Asynchronous Video Communication
A formula for successful social communication through online platforms can be derived from the observations made above:
1. Use video communication to create bonds between people and establish trust.
2. Make the video asynchronous to remove the social anxiety that often accompanies live video conversations.
3. Create a community where the environment encourages people, even strangers, to have deeper and more meaningful conversations, leading to greater personal happiness.
Does any social media platform allow you to communicate in this manner, though? It seems too good to be true.
Welcome to Nool, a social app for asynchronous threaded conversations. This social media platform gives you the tools to have spontaneous conversations with anyone around the world. Start a conversation on a topic of your choice or join an existing conversation about something that interests you — both options are available on the app.
The universe is full of mysteries waiting to be explored, and yet, the most enigmatic of all remains the human mind. With the help of technology, we have found ways to transcend the limitations of physical space and communicate with each other instantaneously. But it is only through the deeper, more personal conversations enabled by asynchronous video communication that we can truly unlock the potential of our collective intelligence and make strides towards a better future.