Monday, April 2, 2012


Dear Ms. Ellison,

I found your discussion of engaging in self-enhancement very enlightening. Obviously individuals heavily engage in self-enhancement when online dating due to anonymity. Self-disclosure as you mentioned is also a major element to forming online relationships. Originally, when I read this point you make, "under certain conditions the online medium may enable participants to express themselves more openly and honestly than in face-to-face contexts," I was opposed to this view, however, I do feel that this is true. I think however that having the comfort of the anonymity of the internet makes self-disclosure easier and therefore it is decreases the magnitude of the experience. Putting the self into 3 categories helped to make identity tangible. The fact that 86 percent of people misrepresent their appearance to make themselves more desirable is amazing to me. I think it gives people a false sense of confidence and it forces people to conform to societies standards of beauty. I guess as you said, lying occurs in everyday life and there are a million ways people can enhance their own appearance, so the internet is just another one of those tools. I feel that it is completely necessary to re-design dating sites to contribute to more honest self representations. Like you said, misrepresentation is a perpetual cycle, it is assumed to be the norm so therefore it has become to common to deviate from. The features that many dating sites include do not fully represent individuals and it contributes to a lack of credibility. As mentioned in Nancy Baym's "Personal Connections in the Digital Age," Baym mentions that the ability to articulate is equally as important as representing one's self as attractive. She is right to say that at a party, those who get notices for attractiveness may not be able to hold a conversation. Online forums allows those articulate people to be noticed.

image borrowed from
Another point that Baym makes is that online representations can be over analyzed. People feel that messages online require more analysis and that others may encode hidden messages. Baym also agrees that lying in some circumstances online is necessary to forming online relationships. Many screen out for age, and this eliminates viable options. It is clear to both you and Baym that the online forum allows for dating that is more contrived and it is easier to misrepresent one's self. Both of you agree that online relationships can be attached to a stigma, however the flaws are similar to real life dating. Baym discusses the many factors that influence the ways in which people interact online including social awkwardness, culture, and societal standards. We are all just observers of the ways in which online relationships are being played out and as Baym says, as we attempt to figure it out a new medium is being created. I feel though that the ways interaction is occurring online is greatly changing the values of society. People's views about meeting online have changes drastically and the world is becoming a very different place.


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