The field of chronemics is another branch of cultural anthropology that can be applied to digital communication. It relates to the way we structure and use time. Chronemics is frequently defined as the study of the role of time in communication. As I mentioned in an earlier post, notions of time play a significant role in the communication process. Time perception plays an important role in non-verbal communication as well as verbal communication. The use of time can affect lifestyle, relationships, attention spans, speed of speech and other behavior. These notions of time are learned experiences and vary across societies.
Chronemics divides the world into two primary camps in terms of their approach to and usage of time – monochronic and polychronic. Monochronic cultures tend to view time as discrete rather than continuous. In these cultures, time is organized into fixed, precise elements, often to be optimized for maximum efficiency. In this system, time is scheduled, arranged and managed. As a result, there are many known elements that comprise monochronic cultures. These include arriving on time, utilizing schedules, adhering to deadlines, doing one task at a time, valuing personal space and having ‘completion’ as the primary metric for success. Examples of monochronic cultures include the United States, Northern Europe and Israel. If you read my previous post, monochronic cultures also tend to be low context.