Sunday, April 1, 2012

Online Deception

To Ellison, Heino, and Gibbs,

     Your article, "Managing Impressions Online", is one that almost everyone with an online identity can relate to. Everything from social networking pages like Facebook and Twitter, to online dating profiles, individuals will always be thinking about how others perceive them as a person and the life they lead. This article does some extensive studies on how often and to what degree some people try to alter their actual identity in order to fit into something they believe is more acceptable or valued by others. While it's certainly not the best way to go about portraying your online self, there's almost no way to avoid it in the online-driven society we live in today.
     One of the most difficult issues concerning online identities is the potential for real, intimate relationships to be formed. As described in your article, "The online dating environment is different, however... Online dating participants report that deception is the 'main perceived disadvantage of online dating' (Brym & Lenton, 2001, p. 3) and see it as commonplace." While this point of information may seem like an obvious one, it's tough to judge just how often it happens. However, as the article goes on to say, "A survey of one online dating site's participants found that 86% felt others misrepresented their physical appearance (Gibbs et al., 2006)." When you think about how many people "find love" online, I find it pretty surprising. Being deceptive about your true identity online would cause nothing but distrust in a relationship, which is easily one of the most essential aspects for it to be successful.
     Following up on this idea of altering ones online identity, Nancy Baym discusses a similar concept pertaining to the use of digital media. "Digital media seem to separate selves from bodies, leading to disembodied identities that exist online in actions and words. This disembodiment opens up new possibilities for exploration and deception" (p. 105-106). These ideas expressed by Baym and Ellison stem from the ability to essentially be anyone you want when you're online. Even social networking sites like Facebook, which require users to use their real name and personal information, individuals find ways of bypassing this and portraying themselves in the way they feel would be best. While it may be beneficial to the users' own personal feelings and prerogative to give off the impression they most prefer, it makes the online world so cluttered with fraud, lies, and deception.

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