In our current society, we are well aware that we are fully immersed in the technological era, the virtual world and remote communications.Face to face” contact is becoming obsolete and is being replaced at an astonishing rate by contact through social networks such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other applications and networks that allow us to have conversations without leaving our home.

A communication that is changing… inevitably

There is no doubt that the new technologies offer many practical advantages and speed, but… Does this type of virtual contact affect communication? Does it interfere in any way, perhaps making it difficult? Or, on the contrary, is it equally effective in all aspects compared to “live” communication?

To begin to discuss this issue, we must bear in mind that communication is based on three aspects , the locutive act , illocutionary and perlocutionary . Experts thus refer to the act of saying something, the intention or purpose of the speaker and the effects or consequences produced by it, respectively.

Different channels, different communication realities

In this sense, it is very interesting to know the contributions of the Canadian cognitive psychologist David R. Olson.This author has thoroughly researched the relationship between written culture and thought. Among his main reflections, Olson states that the exact transcription of speech into written language or reading is not possible . His justification was based on the fact that, when we move from speaking to reading, we lose the illocutionary capacity of language since the writing model itself does not represent this capacity.

Therefore, based on this theory, virtual communication would indeed maintain the locutive and perlocutionary act. But what about the illocutionary act? A prori, no.

WhatsApp and the different forms of online communication exclude the act of speech

Speech communication includes many aspects that would be lost in written communication. Such as the prosody , which includes a large number of relevant communicative aspects, such as the tone and height of voice used (higher can denote nervousness and high can mean discontent), the accent and intonation used.

And going even further, in the case of “face-to-face” speech communication, with respect to the virtual one, we would be losing all the information of the non-verbal type . See where the look, movement and body posture, gestures, facial expression… etc. is directed

More differences and particularities of communication 2.0

Although on the other hand, it is not the same to communicate virtually with an unknown person as with a known person . In the latter case, a series of factors come into play, such as the experiences lived with that person, the knowledge in memory that you may have about his personality, the subjective perceptions about him, etc.

All this leads to a series of expectations, to perceive the things he says knowing how to see “beyond” what he says and to see how he says it, as far as possible. These aspects would lead us to be able to make certain inferences about what the communicative intention of our interlocutor is or, as I mentioned before, his or her illocutionary act.

Conclusions and reflections

In view of the above, can we conclude that virtual communication is the same as face-to-face speech? Of course not. But neither would it be sensible to consider that communication through new technologies should be sentenced and discarded from our lives.

The fact that online communication dispenses with the act of speech is a half-truth. In reality, this important aspect of communication depends largely on many factors. For example, from the degree of knowledge of the other person, through the level of writing and the skill in written expression of the interlocutors, to the level of written comprehension of the receiver. In addition, it should be taken into account that virtual communication applications incorporate a wide repertoire of emoticons, stickers and sounds through which this type of illocutionary comprehension, which would theoretically be excluded in this type of 2.0 communication, can be replaced with all the logical limitations.