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A chatroom ethnography: Evolution of community, norms, nonverbal communication
Unformatted Document Text:  A Chatroom Ethnography 22 happening at almost any given point in online site chat rooms. There would be no reason to suggest that these would be anomalous types of online interactions. Nonverbal Communication in the City AOL Chatroom I have suggested that nonverbal use in the City AOL chatroom reflects the relative interconnectivity of participants in terms of prior interpersonal relationships as well as being expressions of identity. The most intriguing trend found is that there are substantially more nonverbal expressions and a greater variety in those chatrooms where there are previous interpersonal relationships (see Table 1). This finding supports the analysis that group identity and solidarity are negotiated and expressions of conformity to group norms (Baym, 1995; Postmes, et al., 1998) because the focus when the nonverbal cues are used is on other people. This communicates an expression of belongingness to the community, which is a function of conformity to group identity and norms (Postmes, et al., 1998). In the few relationship observations, where the focus is on individual interactions and goals (e.g., hooking up with someone perceived as attractive), there is less group coherence and less opportunity for the development of identity because of the introduction dance that is virtually continuous. In those chatrooms where there were numerous previous interpersonal relationships, it was apparent that basic knowledge had been shared which allowed for a deepening of the richness of interaction, increased breadth and depth in the interaction, and increasingly personal ways of communicating, all indicators of deepening interpersonal relationships (Parks & Floyd, 1996). The rest of this section will provide specific examples and analysis to demonstrate support for these conclusions. Few interpersonal relationships. In the observation with the fewest evidenced prior relationships, there were not only fewer nonverbal cues communicated, but the fewest types of

Authors: Diers, Audra.
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A Chatroom Ethnography
22
happening at almost any given point in online site chat rooms. There would be no reason to
suggest that these would be anomalous types of online interactions.
Nonverbal Communication in the City AOL Chatroom
I have suggested that nonverbal use in the City AOL chatroom reflects the relative
interconnectivity of participants in terms of prior interpersonal relationships as well as being
expressions of identity. The most intriguing trend found is that there are substantially more
nonverbal expressions and a greater variety in those chatrooms where there are previous
interpersonal relationships (see Table 1). This finding supports the analysis that group identity
and solidarity are negotiated and expressions of conformity to group norms (Baym, 1995;
Postmes, et al., 1998) because the focus when the nonverbal cues are used is on other people.
This communicates an expression of belongingness to the community, which is a function of
conformity to group identity and norms (Postmes, et al., 1998). In the few relationship
observations, where the focus is on individual interactions and goals (e.g., hooking up with
someone perceived as attractive), there is less group coherence and less opportunity for the
development of identity because of the introduction dance that is virtually continuous. In those
chatrooms where there were numerous previous interpersonal relationships, it was apparent that
basic knowledge had been shared which allowed for a deepening of the richness of interaction,
increased breadth and depth in the interaction, and increasingly personal ways of
communicating, all indicators of deepening interpersonal relationships (Parks & Floyd, 1996).
The rest of this section will provide specific examples and analysis to demonstrate support for
these conclusions.
Few interpersonal relationships. In the observation with the fewest evidenced prior
relationships, there were not only fewer nonverbal cues communicated, but the fewest types of


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