10 Levels of Intimacy in Today’s Communication (according to Ji Lee)

10 Levels of Intimacy in Today's Communication This is a photo that Agent Zid once tagged me in on Facebook back when I was only  getting started with the social networking site. I remember wondering what this picture was all about the first time I saw it on my profile. Back then I didn’t even know how to untag myself from some of the photos I was tagged in on Facebook.

I look back at this now and think of how out of the 10 levels of intimacy (as “appropriately” depicted by Ji Lee) in today’s communication, six of those involve the use of the computer. If we count those that involve the use of modern technology, we’d count eight. Wow. I mean, is this how “essential” new technology is now when it comes to socializing?

Now, I, by no means actually disagree with Ji Lee. I believe that intimate communication is characterized by the “richness” in the communication “channel”; in other words, the more you are able to say and the more ways you are able to say it, the better. Okay, so I understand that’s not the best way to put it simply, but I’m sure you get what I’m saying. That is why I must agree with Ji Lee when she put talking face to face as the most intimate level of communication. Nonetheless, I do want to look a little bit deeper at how the emergence of new technology affects the dynamics of intimacy in communication.

The emergence of all this new technology grants us, users of it, the choice of using more means of communicating. Now, think about that apology you’ve been wanting to ask from your professor. In the past, we probably would have just had three choices: Talk to the professor personally, write him/her a formal letter, or not try at all. Today, you have email, text messaging, and even Facebook chat. Now granting that your professor is your friend in your Facebook, would writing in his/her wall be the best way to do that?

That situation gives us a picture of how all this new technology is changing–and will continue to change–the dynamics of how we communicate. Given that, I believe our role then is to know and choose the best way of getting our message across–even if that’s just you wanting to greet your friend on her birthday. In some situations writing an email may be the best way to do it.  Other times, only face to face will cut it. And still for other instances, changing your Facebook status may be enough. Either way, we need to be reminded that we are the ones who make that choice. That it is us, not the technology, that defines the sincerity and level of intimacy in our communication.

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  1. When I first saw this photo, I wasn’t really convinced with Twitter being the most intimate communication channel today. I still believe that face-to-face communication (or talking, as Ji Lee puts it) is still the richest comm channel, not only because you are more able to say things FTF, but also because the non-verbal cues that come with words are as important as the spoken message. Non-verbal warmth makes all the difference.

    The emergence of the nine other levels (or communication technology in general)just goes to say that FTF comm has its limits, just like its users. Where there are issues on proximity and immediacy, among others, comm tech enters the picture to aid communication, and in my opinion, we have to think of it that way – that it is an aid to communication, not the entirety of it. Because when we think of it as the former, we would still look at the other elements of communication – the audience, the crafting of the message, the possibility of feedback. I have yet to comment on “the medium is the message” idea; I still have to hear what will be said on our research class. :D

    • I think that you and Ji Lee have the same thing in mind. I think Ji Lee had the intention of highlighting how important FTF communication still is in today’s generation by saying that Twitter, being the first level of intimacy, is actually a big contrast to the richest communication channel. I do think though that the picture was put in this order to say that while FTF is the richest channel, it is also in danger of being belittled in a generation where talking to a ‘monitor’ is second nature. :)

    • tim
    • September 25th, 2010

    hi there.

    tim here. :) i just want to join in your topic. I also believe that face to face interaction is still the best.We know that we have various medium where we can express our concern, interest and deep affection toward our love ones and interest group. However, there is a chance that people feel you and see you. If you are a leader or an organizer or a lover,you must know that intimate moments are essential features of all relationships

  2. If it were up to me, there wouldn’t be any hierarchy in the first place.

    Don’t take it the wrong way. I’m not saying Ji Lee’s depiction is wrong. I mean, I can see how he came up with the ranking for the “intimacy” in each channel. But in my opinion, each channel has it’s pros and cons which balance them all out thus eliminating the need for a hierarchy.

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