Monday, April 2, 2012

Found Love in a Wireless Place

Dear Nancy Baym,

Your chapter "New relationships, New selves" sheds light on the idea of self presentation in the digital world in terms of creating new bonds with other people online.  It may be easier for some people to do so online versus in the offline world because there is less stress and anxiety in the comfort of your own home with whatever you wish to have about yourself all thrown out in the open.  I do agree this leads to the concern of trust and truth in what is presented.  As Ellison et. al. found in their study "Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment", the use of small (identity) cues are essential to forming opinions about someone as well as reflecting on your own presentation of self.  One interview revealed "In the course of [corresponding with others on the site] I became aware of how I had to present myself. Also, I became quite aware that I had to be very brief.… More often than not when I would write a long response, I wouldn't get a response.…. I think it implied…that I was too desperate for conversation, [that] I was a hermit. (joet8, Los Angeles Male)".  Social identity is constantly being negotiated and more so by the interactions with others.  Some people who are so concerned with how they will be viewed by others, feel a need to basically lie about certain things, write a certain way, or use pictures that may not be completely accurate to their real self identities.  It is certainly easier to lie in the virtual world when hiding behind a profile, but deception occurs as well in the offline world like when revealing age, profession, or general likes/dislikes.  These deceptions most often occur in fear of losing a potential relationship.  However, presenting one's self accurately but still talking yourself up is the greatest tension according to Ellison et. al.  If people could read your chapter "Digital Media in Relational Development and Maintenance", they could learn proper ways to cultivate a relationship that begins online and becomes offline.  Since when relationships become closer, more media forms are used to communicate and so the communication and messages change as well incorporating more disclosure.  Knowing how to effectively communicate and present yourself honestly (and still flattering), can help promote the success of a relationship.

I can personally vouch for these findings because my mother met her boyfriend online (I revised and edited her profile, and he looked nothing like his picture), yet they have survived the switch offline :)

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