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Relationship Equals Sum Media Use: Examining Relationships as Media Ecologies
Unformatted Document Text:  Relationship Equals Sum Media Use 7 experience. Introducing a relationship partner into ones existing circle of friends and/or family represents both a significant escalation of the relationship and an important test of how well a relational partner fits with our existing relationships. • By this stage in the relationship it will be common for dating couples to have added holding hands, kissing, and other acts of public intimacy to their behavior inventory in what might be more adequately described as the side-by-side interactive medium. In entering our relational partner’s personal space, touch (and to some extent other senses) becomes an important element of our message making. • Inviting our relational partner’s into our homes reflects yet another such escalation and a signal of trust. The act of creating a meal for another person is a profoundly intimate one in which we are creating messages not only in the modalities of sight, sound, and touch, but with smell and taste. The act of working together, even when working on different projects, or watching television together provides an opportunity to extend our shared media space and our experience of the side-by-side medium while testing our ability to share a common private space. • If we seek to formalize our relationship (most commonly via marriage), we will most often do so through a ritual ceremony and the execution of a contract. • Finally, but hardly least important, is the escalation of a dating or marriage relationship to physical intimacy. The order in which relational partners share and collect media is not terribly important. The above is a plausible sequence that has undoubtedly been followed more than once, but it hardly matters if bulletin board interaction leads to telephone interaction before e-mail, or a couple segues directly from e-mail to intimacy. What matters is that, in the course of most relationships, we use a series of media, each of which offers us new ways to explore and expand our connections with one another. Our relationships are expressed, in a very real sense, within an ecology of media. While it seems likely that some kinds of media are likely to be collected before others, a relationship can start, at least in theory, in any medium. There is nothing new in this. Internet media are hardly necessary to the escalation of relationships through shared media use. Propinquitous interactive environments, including classes, games, parties, teams, the workplace, bars, club meetings, and neighborly conversation, have always provided opportunities to advance from role-limited interaction, through friendly relations, to moving towards friendship. Sharing a phone number or an address to which mail can be sent in the course of a face-to-face interaction provides opportunities to escalate a relationship through the collection of new shared media, starting with a letter or a telephone call. There is no requirement that a "Bill Gates Date" be negotiated and/or completed via a telephone call or that the shared experience be a movie. Indeed, the long-standing prototype for this kind of relational discussion of a shared media experience is sending our relational partner a book we’ve just read and then discussing it in a series of letters.

Authors: Foulger, Davis.
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Relationship Equals Sum Media Use
7
experience. Introducing a relationship partner into ones existing circle of friends
and/or family represents both a significant escalation of the relationship and an
important test of how well a relational partner fits with our existing relationships.
By this stage in the relationship it will be common for dating couples to have
added holding hands, kissing, and other acts of public intimacy to their behavior
inventory in what might be more adequately described as the side-by-side
interactive medium. In entering our relational partner’s personal space, touch (and
to some extent other senses) becomes an important element of our message
making.
Inviting our relational partner’s into our homes reflects yet another such escalation
and a signal of trust. The act of creating a meal for another person is a
profoundly intimate one in which we are creating messages not only in the
modalities of sight, sound, and touch, but with smell and taste. The act of
working together, even when working on different projects, or watching
television together provides an opportunity to extend our shared media space and
our experience of the side-by-side medium while testing our ability to share a
common private space.
If we seek to formalize our relationship (most commonly via marriage), we will
most often do so through a ritual ceremony and the execution of a contract.
Finally, but hardly least important, is the escalation of a dating or marriage
relationship to physical intimacy.
The order in which relational partners share and collect media is not terribly important.
The above is a plausible sequence that has undoubtedly been followed more than once,
but it hardly matters if bulletin board interaction leads to telephone interaction before e-
mail, or a couple segues directly from e-mail to intimacy. What matters is that, in the
course of most relationships, we use a series of media, each of which offers us new ways
to explore and expand our connections with one another. Our relationships are expressed,
in a very real sense, within an ecology of media. While it seems likely that some kinds of
media are likely to be collected before others, a relationship can start, at least in theory, in
any medium.
There is nothing new in this. Internet media are hardly necessary to the escalation of
relationships through shared media use. Propinquitous interactive environments,
including classes, games, parties, teams, the workplace, bars, club meetings, and
neighborly conversation, have always provided opportunities to advance from role-
limited interaction
, through friendly relations, to moving towards friendship. Sharing a
phone number or an address to which mail can be sent in the course of a face-to-face
interaction provides opportunities to escalate a relationship through the collection of new
shared media, starting with a letter or a telephone call. There is no requirement that a
"Bill Gates Date" be negotiated and/or completed via a telephone call or that the shared
experience be a movie. Indeed, the long-standing prototype for this kind of relational
discussion of a shared media experience is sending our relational partner a book we’ve
just read and then discussing it in a series of letters.


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