New communication technologies, old questions
The recent emergence of new media, or better, new communication technologies, has afforded substantial commentary regarding societal effects, the latest chapter in a decades-old trend that rises and falls with each new communication technology. Whereas this article does not deny that the current generation of communication technologies differs from predecessors, it argues against the need for wholesale changes in theory to understand the effects of these technologies. New communication technologies do not fundamentally alter the theoretical bounds of human interaction; such interaction continues to be governed by basic human tendencies. What is perhaps most interesting about these new technologies is their ability to provide new or previously rare contexts for information expression and engagement. This article reviews two sets of rival hypotheses investigated in light of new communication technologies: proposals regarding social isolation effects versus connection effects, and ideas about whether new technologies lead to group integration or group polarization.