The Strategy of Self Presentation

Online dating systems function as economies of attention. Users compete for the time and effort of others to read their profiles and perhaps respond; this promotes what we might call strategic communication, in which people tailor their self-presentation to display what they believe will help them achieve their objectives. One could claim that all communication is strategic to some degree, and in dating situations most people want to put their best face forward. However, in online dating, the potential for exaggeration or fabrication is much greater. At 5'8", I cannot successfully claim to a person in my physical presence that I am 6'2" tall. But in my online personal ad, the deceit would be hard to detect.

Text-based online personals facilitate exaggeration. They make it easy to embellish or lie about characteristics that would be hard to misrepresent in face-to-face interaction, such as height, weight, age, attractiveness, and even facial appearance. (Even photographs are not unimpeachable: they might be favorable shots of a person who usually appears less attractive, or they might show someone else entirely.)

Once a significant number of users in a given personals system post profiles with exaggerated personal information, other users have an incentive to exaggerate to a similar degree or risk being overlooked in favor of others with more appealing — but not necessarily true — attributes (Ariely 2003). This incentive promotes strategic self-presentation, in which users attempt to present a profile, even enact a persona, which they think will optimize their desirability to others, regardless of whether it represents them accurately.

Strategic self-presentation is easier in text-based media than in face-to-face interaction because the user can strictly control what information she gives — that which she intentionally conveys — and can nearly eliminate what she "gives off" — that which she inadvertently indicates (Goffman 1959). Few people can avoid "giving off" their sex or height in face-to-face interaction.

Even if we accept that dating situations often involve some exaggeration in the service of self-promotion, the degree to which it is possible through informationally impoverished channels, combined with the incentive to exaggerate in an environment of exaggerators, makes online dating users likely to exaggerate more often and to a greater degree than offline daters.

Online Dating The Easy Way

Online Dating The Easy Way

Online dating is not all fun and games and there are a lot of things that a person has to know about online dating before one gets into the intricacies of it. Online dating may seem to be the simplest thing in the world but it is not. It should be viewed in all earnestness or things could go haywire. Every game has its rules and unless you know all the rules you just cant become a good player and eventually a winner.

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