Monday, April 2, 2012

Are you who you say you are?

Dear Nancy k. Baym,

After reading your two chapters from the book "Personal Connections in the Digital Age," it really forms an opinion in my mind that meeting people and building relationships online have become more frequent than I thought. Without leaving the comfort of our own homes, we can explore, meet and interact with millions of other individuals who, like ourselves, looks for an opportunity to make friends and become a part of a community. But such a luxury comes with a price. As people interact with others online, some tend to lie about themselves in their profile, in the way they talk, and maybe even the pictures they reveal to others. The line in your book stated: "When people's bodies aren't visible, will people lie about who they are? Can they be known? Can they be trusted? Can the relationships they form be valid?" (Baym 105). All these questions can be answered with disinformation. With this concept, the article by Nicole Ellison, Rebecca Heino and Jennifer Gibbs' "Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment" takes this to a more intimate relationship level. They stated: "People like to write about themselves. Sometimes it's not truthful, but it's how they see themselves and that gives you a different slant on an individual" (Ellison et al 2006). While both Baym and Ellison gave examples of certain people providing disinformation in their profile, the reasoning behind each information given is different. The whole thing about meeting people online weighs heavily on the trust between one another. Upon the discovery of a lie, the relationship can be crumbled within seconds. Whereas people who feels a connection right off the bat can establish a stronger connection. Baym stated: "As once-weak ties develop and strengthen, communication patterns change to reflect and build the evolving relationship" (Baym 127). Starting a conversation and interacting with one another is an easy process, but the connections shared between each other can only be built on honest and sincere terms.

Michael Liang

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