PicBod- Further Development

After looking into some of the ideas around the online world and online chatrooms, I decided to look into the ideas of deception and trust further. For one of the PicBod tasks, I decided to look into the ideas around an online conversation and whether these can be seen as real conversations due to the fact that there are many issues about trust when it comes to the online world; I looked into the idea of Catfishing and this really interested me and how you can don’t know if what a person is telling you is real. All these ideas led me on to look at the idea of deception and its relation to the internet and trust.

Oxford Dictionaries describes Deception as ‘ the act of deceiving someone’, with deceiving meaning, ‘deliberately causing (someone) to believe something that is not true, especially for personal gain.’

After looking at the definition of deception, I decided to look at the idea of deception in relation to the internet, I looked at the article ‘Internet and text deception: new techniques for the same old lies‘; I took some key points away from this.

  • How many times have you texted “I gotta go to work” or “my battery is about to die” to avoid a conversation?
  • Forensic cognitive psychologist Dr. Coral Dando says subtle lies like the above are part of how we manage our everyday social interactions to the best effect; to avoid conflict with friends and family. But research shows that even serious, outright lies—when information given is completely at odds with the truth—are also a daily occurrence.
  • “Some have found that in the 10 minutes that it takes to get acquainted with someone new, people lie an average of 2.18 times – lying about their academic achievements, finances, and experience,” Dando wrote in an email to Global News, citing 2006 research by Tyler.
  • Lies have something in common that didn’t exist to the same extent prior to widespread access to cell phones and the Internet: there’s a record of all of them.

The article looks at the idea of deception in regards to smaller lies, that people tell to avoid a conversation; I myself admit to on occasion telling small lies to avoid something and ignore a specific question, I do not say this is right, yet I believe they help people to ‘edit’ their life in a way that makes them feel more content or confident of who they are. During our lectures, looking at the idea of identity we discussed the idea that the digital world allows us to ‘edit’ our lives, we can show what we want to people, often telling people only of the good things rather than the bad; we also choose what photographs we put up of ourselves and can edit these to make us appear more beautiful or better looking. In regards to deception, due to the nature of the digital world, because we can ‘edit’ and change what we say and how we act, I feel the art of lying is a lot easier.

  • Dando- “People naturally assume one is telling the truth until they discover otherwise because the former approach is less cognitively demanding than the latter,”

Even though many people often deceive and lie online, people still have a tendency to trust what people are saying and this is where it can lead into more serious cases such as Catfishing. If people can’t prove that something is a lie, they will believe it to an extent; however for myself personally, I may, at the back of my mindquestion whether something is a lie, especially in the case of online chatrooms.

I decided to then look into the larger forms of deception and the internet in the form of Catfishing, looking at the article, ‘Catfishing: The Truth About Deception Online‘. There were many interesting points that I considered.

  • The term catfish was made popular by the 2010 documentary film by the same name (which has also morphed into a series on MTV). It refers to a person who is intentionally deceptive when creating a social media profile, often with the goal of making a romantic connection. This deception can be elaborate, and may involve the use of fake photos, fake biographies, and sometimes fictitious supporting networks as well.
  • The web has had a reputation as a place where anonymity is permitted. However, social networking sites tend to encourage greater degrees of transparency. Users are required to create a profile, which helps to establish an online identity. Over time a user’s sum total of online activities paint a picture of who that user may be but we don’t always question this information. We tend to forget that we see what others want us to see when it comes to crafting an identity.

The transparency of social media, links back to the idea of ‘editing’ ourselves and forming an online identity that can be seen as an edited and enhanced version of our real lives, making people seem ‘better’ than who they really are in real life.

  • Catfish are successful because their actions mirror offline behaviours. We choose what we believe to be the best of ourselves to share with others. We highlight knowledge, skills, and tendencies that help establish our connection to particular social groups—and hopefully the person in front of us well. Sociologist Erving Goffman believed that this sort of editing of the self to shape the impression we make on others sits at the core of social interaction. We want to appear as similar as possible to the object of our interaction; acceptance secures our place within our networks.
  • This plays out online as well. Think about your Facebook profile photo, for example. How much time and thought did you invest in its selection? Did you think about how that photo represented you? You probably didn’t pick a photo where you thought you looked badly. And if it was a particularly good picture, when was the last time you changed it? Do you still look like that person or are you choosing to represent yourself as the person you were in that moment?
  • And within these exercises deception might actually help us create an image of ourselves that has mass appeal. This type of deception can be somewhat contained offline. After all, when you’re face-to-face with someone, they have to support the image they’re presenting. This isn’t quite as true online—or rather, there’s some flexibility that arises from the disjuncture between a user’s profile and interaction with that user. Because it’s not instantaneous, users have the opportunity to craft a specific image and adjust that image over time. We can plan and edit ourselves in this medium.

The online world offers us the freedom to ‘act’ in a different way that is possibly more appealing to people, this can be done a lot easier online and kept up as time can be spent composing and creating this ‘new’ identity that is only shown to people when we want. People do not see the ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘making’ of this identity and so this allows each person freedom to how they want to act.

  • Rampant misspellings or language misuse might be interpreted as a lack of interest or a lack of education. Writing style is also believed by some users to indicate personality, and care may be taken to adopt or avoid a certain tone—one user wanted to avoid sounding “cutesy” because she wanted to avoid people who might be looking for less serious relationships.
  • Different from social networks where you also have the expectation of interacting with an actual person. This expectation generates the trust that allows a catfish to infiltrate the network and survive. The degree of scrutiny of profiles and the effort of validation of identity are less on social networking sites than dating sites because the end goal is not necessarily an offline meeting.
  • Why do they do it? The reasons are complex, but may be rooted in the “online disinhibition effect,” where the potential for anonymity in online spaces reduces people’s responsiveness to social and moral codes. There is a certain pleasure in deception—in knowing that you’ve managed to fool someone in some way. Online spaces mean that user don’t always have to face the people they fool, so feelings like stress, tension, guilt and shame can be avoided as they explore who they might want to be or how far they can press a storyline.

I am really interested in the idea of online deception and the ideas around whether you can trust who you are talking to; for my conversation task I had a conversation online with a guy called Hunter, he told me a lot about his life and we spoke online for a good few hours. As the conversation progressed Hunter became more open and told me more, he was comfortable with me and trusted me, and I him, yet I still had the uncertain feeling in the back on my head questioning whether what he was telling me was true. I want to continue focusing on the ideas of deception and the online chatroom, I will continue to have different conversations with people, looking at the range of different people that use the online chatroom and the type of conversations that I have. I am aware that many people go onto online chatrooms for sexual purposes, but I am interested to see if I can have real conversations with people, like I did with Hunter. Having said that I will always question if what people are telling me is true, and be wary of the information I give out about myself, I do not intent to lie or deceive people when talking to them, but I may filter the information I give them in some cases.

Finally I questioned why do people uses these chatrooms, and how do they effect the way we act and talk. Can these chatrooms be seen as a reflection or similar to real conversations?

Somebody to talk to?


  • Most of the big internet service providers run a “chatroom” system with headings such as sport, business, over-50s or teens. People adopt a user name such as Naughty Angel or Rude Rodent and enter a room with up to 150 other users. A constant babble of typing is going on in the main window where everyone can see and respond to everyone else.
  • In fact, in Microsoft Network (MSN) chatrooms, anyone can be a host and create their own chatroom, which operate under titles such as Hot Teens!, Teens Flirting! and Young Girls Chatting to Older Men. These rooms appear to be unsupervised and the host is responsible for behaviour in the room.

The chatrooms offer people a release from the real world, and allow them to enter a digital world, possibly to talk about a certain topic, or to find new people to talk to. I find it interesting how people can create their own chatrooms, which are specialised for certain people, but once again this makes me question the idea of truth and whether these created chatrooms could be used to deceive people.

How Internet-speak is changing the way we talk IRL (in real life)


  • While some people worry that hashtags and emoticons will fundamentally diminish the spoken word as we know it, these fears are overblown.
  • When it comes to the way we communicate with each other, it’s obvious the Internet influenced some major changes: Email superseded snail mail, Facebook pretty much swallowed the idea of calling someone and wishing them a happy birthday, our job hunts are conducted through LinkedIn or Craigslist.
  • Since people often communicate online and through text messages, truncated turns of phrase and space-saving emoticons are now mainstream.
  • Internet-speak is firmly implanted in language now, and as we continue to live our lives online, new expressions and words will continue to develop. Just as languages evolved before – by interacting with other languages – we will adjust the way we use words based on what we do and see.
  • Right now, middle-aged people did not grow up with the Internet; they started using it as teens or adults, so they don’t have the same relationship to how people talk online and through mobile devices — they’re not native speakers. But as the first generation of native speakers grows up and has children of their own — children who will no doubt be even more acclimatized to living online, if the babies I see playing with iPads are any inclination — the amount that Internet speak weaves into normal dialogue will become even more pronounced.
  • So it seems likely that the Internet will continue influencing the way we talk as long as its an important part of society.

In relation to the idea of conversation and the online chatroom, just by having a few conversations I could see little changes to the way people would speak in real life, there are many abbreviations to make the chat quicker therefore conversation becomes more direct and abrupt, with possibly shorter answers but more of them. I am interested in looking at how an online conversation compares to a real life conversation and if there are any links; I am also interested in the speed and structure of online conversations and how they are read.

I also looked at an academic article, At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries and its chapter Youth Connecting Online: From Chat Rooms to Social Networking Sites, that looks at the ideas of different technologies and how these are affecting and adapting our lives. The technological world is rapidly changing and evolving, with different technologies going through trends; it can be seen that the younger generations are adapting to these changes in ways that support their development. There is a growing number of young people that spend much of their free time on the Internet communicating with others, often using tools such as email, social networking sites, blogs, instant messengers and chatrooms. All these tools present young consumers with the access to a wealth of online knowledge and also to people that they would not possibly be able to talk to if it were not for the internet. The article states that chatrooms have been used for decades, yet it is only recently that social networking has been used as a communication tool, yet both offer similar and unique ways for users to connect with others.

In this chapter, that interested me and linked to my own research and ideas, the article looks at two areas of these online communication tools. The first area explored is that of the communication characteristics of chat rooms and social network sites that lead young people to use each of them very differently and for different reasons. In my own work and study of this, I have already witnessed some of the different uses of these online platforms; I looked into the ideas around catfishing and the questioning of identity, but also I am aware of the sexual uses that many people use online chatrooms for. Secondly, the chapter looks at the applications and the behaviours within the different online platforms. Overall the article shows how regardless of the differences in online activities, all forms of online communication can be seen as an important part of an individuals identity. To an extent I agree with this statement, as I do believe that in the technological world that we live in now, the use of online platforms has helped shape the younger generations and their learning experiences. Yet I also believe that the physical communication and interaction with people is still an important factor in the way people develop. I am interested in this comparison between ‘real life’ conversations and the online conversations and so this could be something I look into further. Also looking at the different types of conversations I have could be interesting, looking at what people use the online chatrooms for and the comparison between different online conversations.

After all my research around the ideas of online chatrooms and deception, I plan to look into these ideas further; I will continue to have different conversations online and begin to think about how I could represent these conversations in an interesting and unique way for the assignment brief.


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