Dear Nancy Baym,
Your chapters on online relationships are extremely similar to other readings I have come across. I generally feel everyone has the same opinion and concerns when it comes to creating online relationships, maintaining online relationships, and how to present one's self. I agree that online users "often size people up and decide whether or not to talk to them based on how they look." Online relationships have created shallow personalities. That is why so many people will fabricate their online identity, so that it pleases the many and not who they are truly looking to attract. This is where identity becomes an issue. As you mentioned, will people lie about who they are, can they be trusted, can the relationship formed be valid, etc. People often expect others to be less honest online because it is so easy to twist the truth when you are not creating a relationship online. Online users will sometimes fail to know when too much information is too much or what is appropriate vs. what is inappropriate, or how to determine who is really a "friend".
A study was conducted regarding managing impressions online. Some individuals in the study had mentioned they lied about their age or weight. One individual commented, "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." And another said, "I sort of thought about what is my ideal self. Because when you date, you present your best foot forward." So, as you can see from first hand evidence, honesty is usually not the best policy when it comes to creating an online identity. Everyone wants to "present their best foot forward" so they will fabricate who they really are to be accepted. However, not every individual will lie about who they are online. As you mentioned, through the "cues' individuals give off online assumptions can be made about a persons real personality. Eventually, through managing an online relationship for quite some time, the truth will come out a little at a time.