As far as the ability to express ourselves, people can present themselves as however they want to. However, this also raises the question of authenticity. Baym says that “we might appear more attractive to others in online messages because sparse cues give us more control over our messages” which allows people to take the time to present themselves how they want others to see them (Baym, 2015, Digital media in everyday relationships, 146). People can use filters to change their photos, they can take the time to respond to texts and emails, thanks to asynchronous communication, and some people are more confident online than in person. However, the way that people are given the opportunity to present themselves online can be manipulated by private corporations. Private corporations who collect money from collected and stored data or users would most likely endorse these applications or changes to human behavior. Dating services, such as EHarmony and Match.com, only operate when people in society want to find someone to date. These websites receive payments in return for a person to be on the site and receive matches. However, as far as the people on the sites go, the websites encourage everyone to join the site but doesn’t necessarily tell them how to act on the site. Therefore, the risk that a person takes by going onto these sites and paying for their services is the risk of someone being inauthentic. The sites may not endorse a person being inauthentic, but so long as they get paid, they will allow someone to be on the site. Although the sites are not directly telling people to lie online, they allow it to happen by giving someone the place to lie to others. Therefore, the websites give people the space to present themselves however they want, its up to the person to decide which photos they want to share with others, what information they tell them, and how they interact with them. The dating sites are only one place people can present themselves online, there are others sites and social media platforms that allow people to decide how they want to be perceived.
An aspect of communication though online platforms is the idea of being authentic. This is something that is a fear in people and can cause moral panic over certain websites, especially when they are first introduced. This brings up the question on if relationships are capable of being formed online. In week thirteen, the discussion question asked the members in group seven to make an argument in favor of or not in favor of making relationships online. Shelby Nelson says, “You can meet awful people online just like you can in real life through face-to-face interaction” which gives the impression that Shelby finds the internet to be just as safe as in person and both have limitations (Nelson, 2017, Online vs In Person, 1). This is an interesting point because when there was the option to create relationships online, as noted though dating sites in the next paragraph, people were wary of the services and the authenticity of people they meet online. However, it is important to note that in the past, there was something similar, but without the usage of an online website or chat room, called “blind dates”. These were dates that mutual friends would often set up for friends to get to know one another and meet new people who could perhaps turn into relationships. These could have become dangerous, as the person did not know the other, similar to how two people meet online and don’t know each other and then meet in person.
http://www.eharmony.com/ To learn more about EHarmony and the steps to finding the right person to spend the rest of your life with and to sign up for the service, follow the link to the website.
http://www.match.com/cpx/en-us/match/IndexPage/ to sign up for Match.com services, follow the link to the website.