Monday, April 2, 2012

Does he really actually enjoy long walks on the beach?

Dear Ellison, Heino, and Gibbs,

In your journal article “Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment,” you write that “in recent years, the use of online dating or online personals services has evolved from a marginal to a mainstream social practice,” and I couldn’t agree more. I’m actually researching this t

opic for a project in one of my classes, and am exploring why people choose one site over another, when online dating has become so mainstream, and there are so many niche sites out there nowadays. While online dating sites are great in many respects, as you talk about in your article, their downfall is that people don’t always express their actual selves when creating their profile. Like all forms of new social media, people are not always truthful online, and these platforms allow them to create and display an alternative identity. You quote that people may use online dating in strategic ways “to convey an impression to others which it is his interest to convey.” You write that people will engage in self-enhancement, as meeting in an online context is still a way of creating a first impression, and people tend to want to give off a good a

nd memorable one. It is much easier to alter and even create a new self all together when hiding behind a computer screen, rather than meeting in person for the first time.

The major downside with this is that if people are in fact lying and enhancing their self-presentation, they won’t live up to the expectations they’ve created for the person they’re meeting, and disappointment can ensue. In other online contexts like Second Life and message boards, people aren’t generally preparing to meet each other in person, but rather just interact online; so it’s more acceptable for them to create these alternate identities, verses in online dating settings, where in the end, they’re planning on meeting up in person. Nancy Baym also explores this idea of manipulating ones self-presentation to come off as more appealing to others. She says that internet users may not actually be who they say they are, and therefore, it’s difficult for a person to understand the true identity of the person they’re conversing with. She also mentions that since such a large number of people alter their online identity, many people have come to terms with this and take the info that users post with a grain of salt. Since people are hiding behind a computer screen, now more than ever, it’s harder to tell a real identity from a fabricated one. But when it comes to online dating, people should be more inclined to post accurate information about themselves, as the end result of online dating is to actually meet in person and continue a truthful relationship.

Blaine Schoen

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