Monday, September 25, 2006

Assignment 5: Deception and Facebook

(I apologize if this makes no sense. I'm writing it on not having slept in 40 hours.)

Though it looks complicated especially after all of the news-feeds, stalking techniques, and information overload, facebook profiles are actually quite simple. Facebook profiles, I think, all start with the subject's picture. I mean, who wants to be a question mark? So, generally most people decide to choose very positive, attractive, and fun pictures of themselves. This is not always the case, however, as there are of course those people who would prefer to have a drunken picture of themselves as the gateway to their profile on facebook. The picture is the immediate identifier that relates to self-presentation, followed by the person's name, which is the second most important feature of facebook. The next important part of facebook is location. This is a very important feature as it offers the person the opportunity to offer profile-viewers the opportunity to know where they are currently and where they've been in the past, in terms of where they graduated college. Oftentimes, I assume, many people probably lie about their locations upon graduating from college or spending time away from college in the summer. In essence, they just want to be somewhere "nice", "trendy", and "successful." I think the location feature of facebook is very important to an immediate self-appraisal of the person. The next few categories are much more personal. They offer the person their first real opportunity to expose themselves to the wider public, in terms of sex, which sex they're interested in, what type of relationship they're interested in, where they're actually from (hometown), when their birthday is, and, most importantly, whether they're in a relationship or not. I shall come back to this. The rest of the information on a facebook profile, including personal information, is equally as important to the act of deception on facebook. All of the features of personal information could easily exploit the opportunity for someone to be deceptive on their profile.

I know, personally, I have a very accurate facebook profile. Everything that I claim about myself is true and can't really be contested as far as I know. My experience with others' profiles has been different, though. Whenever I do read profiles of people I'm usually pretty intrigued and confused at the same time, especially when I know someone pretty well. Deception is a reality on facebook, just not with me. My friend also has a pretty clean and accurate facebook profile. She is a Cornell alum from 2006 and does now live in Washington, D.C. Her birthday is correct and she wittingly even changed her address as she has since moved closer to Washington, D.C. Even her personal information is accurate from knowing and talking to her. Therefore, her self-presentation was around 4.5. The one thing that sticks out as being innacurate and confusing is her relationship status. She's single, but it says "It's complicated with "female friend"? Seeing this makes me chuckle, not because my friend is lying in her profile, but because there is actually the option to say "It's complicated" with someone on facebook. Yes, it is important for everyone to know you're unsure of your potential next partner or just assuming it's a good thing to be "complicated." This is an inherent structure of facebook. The reason the friend, along with the other friend of mine, are in this relationship (though kiddingly) is because of selective self-presentation. Nothing else in her profile is embellished. But her relationship status is, which could possibly be my friend's own personal preference. Overall, though, my friend was pretty accurate on both my and her assessment scales.

My finding in facebook rests within the selective self-presentation theory of Walther (1996). This theory would argue that my friend's biggest weakness and nervousness-inducing actions involve her dating/relationship status. As well as I know her, I do know this is indeed an issue that takes a long time to positively affect. Overall, facebook profiles obviously change from case to case, but there is an overriding arching theme that those, including those that don't explicitly address omore salient examples on their profiles, people who lie on their facebook profiles do it because of selective self-presentation, which can meet any number of things.


At 12:34 AM, Blogger Corey Ryan Earle said...

No sleep in 40 hours? Must have been a busy night.

I thought you made some interesting observations. Your hierarchy of important Facebook components (picture being the most important, followed by name, location, etc.) intrigues me. Wouldn't the name be most important since that's how you find the profile and identify the person to begin with? Or maybe you're referring to when you search for some other factor and a list of profiles is given. In that case, I agree that most people probably skim through the list looking at the photographs. But in that case, the name seems like it wouldn't be 2nd in importance, or very important at all, at least regarding the impression that the profile makes.

Regarding deceiving about location on the Facebook, I don't think I've ever observed that personally. It seems that if anyone actually knew a person, it'd be pretty easy to verify where they are located. Location seems to be an assessment signal that any real friend could verify easily, which would make it difficult to lie about. Or it least somewhat embarrassing if someone was caught lying about it.

Is location really that influential to people looking at Facebook profiles? I suspect most people use Facebook typically to look at people in their own location (at Cornell, in Ithaca), for example.

Good post; it raises some interesting points that I hadn't thought of before. I agree that it all comes down to selective self-presentation in the end. Everyone's trying to look good through their online persona.


Post a Comment

<< Home