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Relationship Equals Sum Media Use: Examining Relationships as Media Ecologies
Unformatted Document Text:  Relationship Equals Sum Media Use 6 • As the friendship becomes stronger (nascent friendship) and the desire for immediacy increases, it will not be unusual to expand interaction to include the telephone or other time synchronous media and start to express at least a desire for face-to-face meetings. As interactants seek common ground and common interests they may start to share other media experiences. They may share pointers to web sites that are particularly interesting and then discuss them. They may talk about movies they’ve seen, television shows they’ve watched, books they’ve read, and music they’ve listened to. • As the friendship stabilizes (stabilized friendship) the relational partners will seek to create shared experiences. Telephone calls may become more or less scheduled. There may be an expectation of particular kinds of instant messaging or e-mail behavior. They may even schedule what is now sometimes referred to as a "Bill Gates Date" in which they agree to separately share the same media experience (go to a movie, for instance, in different places at the same time) and then discuss it afterwards on the telephone (this term refers to a possibly apocryphal story of the early stages of Bill Gates relationship with his wife Melinda, in which they reportedly scheduled "dates" while they were in different cities. These dates took the form of going to the same movie in their respective cities and then talking about it on the phone afterward). It is entirely possible to achieve stabilized long-term relationships with people one has never met face to face. Informal surveys of undergraduate students invariably reveal students who have friends in other parts of the country and the world with whom they have communicated regularly for months or years, but whom they have never met (and in some cases never expect to meet). This should not be seen as denying the centrality of face-to-face interaction in most relationships, but rather to state that it is not necessary to the formation and maintenance of strong and enduring long-term relationships. At least some level of face-to-face interaction is necessary, however, if we are to move a relationship from friendship to the intimacy of dating and marriage. Such intensification of a relationship will be accompanied by additional adoptions of shared media, as illustrated below: • If and/or when the relational partners do meet face-to-face with the intention of exploring their potential to become a couple (e.g. if they date), it is unlikely that their collection of shared media will end with dyadic conversation. Indeed, it is reasonable to expect that close friends and even business associates will occasionally eat together in a restaurant (adding, at the very least, meal selection rituals, the smells and tastes of foods, and mealtime etiquette to the text of their relationship). • Close friends and dating couples are likely to also add propinquitous and synchronous media experiences to their inventory. They are likely to go to movies, concerts, and other public entertainments together. State and county fairs, school dances, amusement parks, school concerts, and church socials, are but a few of the opportunities close friends and couples have for expanding their shared text and exploring their mutual interests. These public experiences will often be an opportunity to add group and family interaction to our shared media

Authors: Foulger, Davis.
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Relationship Equals Sum Media Use
6
As the friendship becomes stronger (nascent friendship) and the desire for
immediacy increases, it will not be unusual to expand interaction to include the
telephone or other time synchronous media and start to express at least a desire
for face-to-face meetings. As interactants seek common ground and common
interests they may start to share other media experiences. They may share
pointers to web sites that are particularly interesting and then discuss them. They
may talk about movies they’ve seen, television shows they’ve watched, books
they’ve read, and music they’ve listened to.
As the friendship stabilizes (stabilized friendship) the relational partners will seek
to create shared experiences. Telephone calls may become more or less
scheduled. There may be an expectation of particular kinds of instant messaging
or e-mail behavior. They may even schedule what is now sometimes referred to
as a "Bill Gates Date" in which they agree to separately share the same media
experience (go to a movie, for instance, in different places at the same time) and
then discuss it afterwards on the telephone (this term refers to a possibly
apocryphal story of the early stages of Bill Gates relationship with his wife
Melinda, in which they reportedly scheduled "dates" while they were in different
cities. These dates took the form of going to the same movie in their respective
cities and then talking about it on the phone afterward).
It is entirely possible to achieve stabilized long-term relationships with people one has
never met face to face. Informal surveys of undergraduate students invariably reveal
students who have friends in other parts of the country and the world with whom they
have communicated regularly for months or years, but whom they have never met (and in
some cases never expect to meet). This should not be seen as denying the centrality of
face-to-face interaction in most relationships, but rather to state that it is not necessary to
the formation and maintenance of strong and enduring long-term relationships. At least
some level of face-to-face interaction is necessary, however, if we are to move a
relationship from friendship to the intimacy of dating and marriage. Such intensification
of a relationship will be accompanied by additional adoptions of shared media, as
illustrated below:
If and/or when the relational partners do meet face-to-face with the intention of
exploring their potential to become a couple (e.g. if they date), it is unlikely that
their collection of shared media will end with dyadic conversation. Indeed, it is
reasonable to expect that close friends and even business associates will
occasionally eat together in a restaurant (adding, at the very least, meal
selection rituals, the smells and tastes of foods, and mealtime etiquette to the text
of their relationship).
Close friends and dating couples are likely to also add propinquitous and
synchronous media experiences to their inventory. They are likely to go to
movies, concerts, and other public entertainments together. State and county
fairs, school dances, amusement parks, school concerts, and church socials, are
but a few of the opportunities close friends and couples have for expanding their
shared text and exploring their mutual interests. These public experiences will
often be an opportunity to add group and family interaction to our shared media


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