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| September 17, 2012
I am working on a presentation about how our instincts, motivations and mindset affect our online behavior. Reviewing information and content for the presentation got me wondering about how well emotions are conveyed on the Internet. We may “like” something on Facebook but how much emotion does that really convey?
Simply reflecting on my own online behavior suggests a lot of it is task oriented. I only use the Internet for entertainment when I am bored, and even then it rarely extends beyond Flipboard and Facebook. Most of the content I access via Flipboard is information not entertainment. And even when I connect with friends on Facebook, it may raise a smile but usually little more. For me, the Internet does not generate the same degree of emotion as talking on the phone or interacting in person.
Maybe it is just me, but maybe it is the medium. Dom Twose, Global Head of Knowledge Management, recently sent me a quick note clarifying a chart derived from research by Albert Mehrabian. The research refers to the communication of feelings and attitudes and suggests that words account for only 7 percent of that communication. Tone of voice accounts for 38 percent and non-verbal, “body language,” accounts for the remaining majority.
Dom was actually warning me that the data refers only to feelings, not all communication, but the implications are interesting. If you are not an ardent online video watcher, then most of the content is pictorial and verbal. Is it possible that this undermines the Internet’s ability to communicate feelings?
If I understand it correctly, Mehrabian was suggesting that "total liking" is the "total communication of the feeling of liking." As Dom explained to me, if he was trying to communicate to me that he liked something, I’d get the message from a combination of what he said, the tone of his voice and his facial expression. Dom put it this way, “So if I ate an orange and told you I really liked it, but screwed my face up, you'd likely conclude I didn’t really like it.”
So maybe the Internet is a great way to communicate information but a poor way to communicate emotion. What do you think? Has anything you have seen online really moved you? And was it video, pictures or words only? Please share your thoughts.