Monday, April 2, 2012

Identity Online

Dear Nancy Baym,

After reading chapter five and six of your book I could relate to the ideas that you were exploring. You talk about online identity and how people perceive one another. The problem with identity is that the internet makes it amazingly easy to adjust yourself to be whom ever you want to be. Although this is true you also point out that it is nothing new. In quoting Shakespeare you state, "All the worlds a stage", meaning that people mold into different persona's based on where and who they are with. I think that that is true and that people shouldn't be discouraged by this when they are online because it's been going on for decades upon decades.

Ellison, Heino and Gibbs talk about how identity is also and issue for dating sites, but they decipher how people can sift through certain people. You (Baym) state that, "Our ability to construct an online identity, whether authentic, fanciful, or manipulative is limited and enabled by the communication tools, or affordances, a platform makes available and our skill at strategically managing them" (p. 108). Ellison highlights upon the fact that online daters judge other potential daters based on how they spell and the grammar that they use when they wrote their profile. If their literacy and grammar is low then they are probably not as educated as others. They quote one of the people they interview in stating, "If I am getting an email from someone that obviously can't spell or put a full sentence together, I'm thinking what other parts of his life suffer from the same lack of attentiveness". Although we can shift our identities a lot more easily online, there are some areas that we cannot escape, and people are figuring out how to see beyond what others think they are personifying.

You bring up the topic of authenticity and relationship, and the interpretations that others can have. You state, "In most encounters others will have fairly limited cues with which to interpret us, and may or may not make of them the meanings we had intended" (p. 119). I think that that is true, and that Ellison's article confirms this theory. They talk about how online daters may put a false age for themselves, so that they won't be taken out of a search based on being to old for a viewer (sorting others by age is commonly done on matchmaking sites). Ellison quotes an interviewee in saying, "Everybody lies about their age or a lot of people I have to cheat too in order to be on the same page as everybody else that cheats". I think that some people would not interpret this person the same way that they might think. If I modified a search to a certain age range and found someone who was lying about their age I would be insulted and would not trust them. Sometimes it may not be the smartest idea to assume "everyone is doing it" when you are lying.


Nicole Lengyel

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