(Week 11 Post)
Dear Nancy Baym,
I thought your coverage in chapter 5 of the process of meeting new people and the presentation of self was interesting (and I feel the same about chapter 6 and your discussion about relationship development and maintenance). I agree when you said that digital forms of interaction may be said to lower inhibitions, make it easier to find shared interests, and make it easier to make friends across social divisions, however, they also force us to consider whether those we interact with are who they say they are. I find this true because I know people that use Facebook to do this, they talk to people through Facebook Chat making themselves come off as the person they want to be, and they have open conversations about a variety of topics as if they are best friends, yet if they see each other in person they barely know how to say hi. It’s just something about not being face to face that gives people a sense of security, but worry at the same time about who’s on the other side. This goes along with Ellison et al’s article about online impressions and self-presentation. Even though she talks about online dating environments, it still covers the same topics: how people portray themselves online. In their article they write about these participants and how they don’t always realize but they make themselves appear better than they are, as if it’s a fantasy or “ideal” image of themselves in order to get people to connect with them. They even bring up the “Foggy Mirror” phenomenon that explains that people may misrepresent themselves because of technical constraints or tendency to present an idealized self because of the limits of self-knowledge. One example was that people explain themselves by how they see themselves however it might be a different perception from how others see themselves, which affects results. This ties into your chapter because this will affect like you said, that question in the back of our minds... “Are people we interact with really who they say they are.” Another thing the authors mentioned I thought was interesting was that, “the face-to-face interaction they anticipated meant that individuals had to balance their desire for self-promotion with their need for accurate self-presentation”, I never thought of that as something someone would have to worry about, but if people are using dating websites this is certainly something that is very important. In your chapter 6 covering relationship development and maintenance, I agree with how you explain that as more forms of communication are added due to strengthening relationships, it usually exposes us to more social cues, for example going from emails to phone calls. I think it’s so true, because as discussions cover more varied topics and include more personal information, the relationship becomes closer. I liked how you pointed out that there is no correlation between the form of communication we use (whether it’s face-to-face or virtual) and the closeness of our relationship. I agree with that because I could talk to someone at work everyday and still not be close to them, however, my dad lives in Florida and I Skype/call/email him regularly and feel a lot closer than I do with any of my coworkers. It all depends on the relationships being built I guess, and I guess I’m not trying to build those particular relationships with certain coworkers as I am with family members.