Role Of Gender In The Use Of Social Media To Engage In Or Avoid Conflict


M7D1: Case Study: Lying on a Dating Profile


Consider the following case study: Two people, Robert and Maria, agree to go on a date after meeting each other virtually through an online dating site, viewing each other’s profiles, and exchanging a few emails. After their date, they had the following to say:

Maria: “I was completely shocked and upset to discover that while everything Robert said about his life, hobbies and career was true, the picture he used was ten years old. He has much less hair than he had in the picture, he’s clearly gained some weight since then, and I think he may have altered the picture to make himself look taller. I decided not to go on another date with him.”

Robert: “I was disappointed to find out that while Maria said in her profile that she’s into classic literature and classic rock-n-roll, just like me, when we were talking at dinner she didn’t seem to know anything about the subjects. She finally confessed that she put down books and bands that she knows most guys like even though she doesn’t like them herself. I decided not to go on a second date with her.”

Discussion Questions

After reviewing the Module Notes, Beveridge, and the video Websex, respond to the following questions.

  • Were both characters justified in feeling upset to find that the other character lied? Was one transgression more acceptable than the other? Please explain.
  • How much lying is acceptable in a dating profile? Is it ever OK to exaggerate or fib to help attract interest in a crowded online dating field and stand out from the pack? Please explain.
  • Should dating sites be doing more to monitor users’ profiles for deception or lies? What solution would you suggest for the problem of deceptive profiles?
  • Websexdiscusses how webcams and sharing sexually explicit photographs have become a prelude to or even a substitute for real life dating for teenagers and young adults. How does this compare to or contrast with traditional online dating? Why would people choose this form of connection over the text-based connections from the previous generation of online daters?

M7D2: Case Study: The Medium Is the Message?


The way we perceive the relative “importance” of online communication is rapidly changing, and communications that once would have been considered too important to relate online are now routinely delivered by new media. Consider the following scenario:

“I’m living on the East Coast for work for six months, but my mother and fiancée are back home on the West Coast. Things haven’t been going so well with me and my fiancée, and I decided to call off the engagement. I let my fiancée know by text, and I changed my Facebook status from ‘engaged’ to ‘single.’ She was really mad that I broke the news by texting, but I don’t see why. We met online, so what’s the problem? My mother then saw my status on Facebook and called me on the phone to tell me I should have called her to let her know before she saw it online. I just don’t see the difference between the phone and the internet, so I don’t know what she was so mad about. I’m the one who just ended a relationship!”

Discussion Questions

After reviewing Chapter 6 of Baym, Saidur Rahaman, and the Module Notes, respond to the following questions.

  • In this case study, did the speaker owe the fiancée or the mother communication through a different medium? If so, which one and why? If not, why not?
  • When it comes to major life events, when, if ever, might it be appropriate to inform those with whom you have a close relationship through text message or social media posting?
  • Identify two ways that the choice of medium impacts your perception of a communication. Do you find that you expect family or close friends to communicate with you through different mediums than acquaintances? Why?
  • In Module 5 we discussed “Black Twitter” and the expression of racial identity online. What role do you see gender playing in the use of social media to engage in or avoid conflict? How might men and women perceive conflict differently when expressed through social media or a text message? What solution might you recommend to help men and women manage conflict better on social media?

Note: Should be 250 words per post.

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