It depends on why you are asking the question and where you are when you’re asking the question. You could be having a face-to-face conversation and yet have it broadcast to multiple portals, in multiple locations at the same time. In all communication situations, there could be an element of both human communication and mass communication, because you see, mass communication is just an extension of human communication. The difference with mass communication is that it sometimes happens on a greater scale. Communication is such a dynamic process that it is constantly changing and progressing. I remember the days when I would search for a pay phone so I could “reach out and touch” someone. Now, technology is such that I can communicate via Skype, Periscope or even by way of Facebook Live.
Communication theory in general has become such an important part of the academic curriculum that colleges and universities now require students to take these courses in order to prepare them for a more competitive and connected global society. Just for the sake of making a logical argument about the differences surrounding human communication and mass communication, you would need to understand how each functions within society as a whole.
The way I see it, human communication, simply put, involves communicating up close and personal. Whether it is in the form of interpersonal, intrapersonal or group communication, it is still human communication. Mass communication happens more broadly in the context of public space. Mass communication involves sending multiple messages over multiple planes. Whether it is by way of the printed page or an online blog such as this, it still amounts to mass communication. So, what’s the difference between human communication and mass communication? I submit to you they are two sides of the same coin. It really does depend on whether you are asking this question from the stage of a TED talk, during a streaming or prerecorded lecture online, or even while Skyping your kids, parents, or friends.
Tony G. Blash, M.A.
COM Adjunct Faculty, OLC