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eDating: the formation of rules of courtship for the network society


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eDating: the formation of rules of courtship for the network society

  1. 1. eDating: the formation of rules of courtship for the network society Maz Hardey SIRU – the University of York September 2006
  2. 2. The world of ‘eDating’   Past ‘lonely hearts’ advertisements in newspapers.   Today Internet based and increasingly other forms digital media.  over 15 million active users.   Diversity of services e.g. Christian Singles Café, Gay Dating, Vegan Date, SugarDaddy, Marry an Ugly Millionaire…   Majority of sites aimed at heterosexual relationships
  3. 3. Nature of eDating sites   Most sites subscription based   Now a multi-million pound business   Users commonly complete a form with details of geographical location, gender, etc   Users write a profile that often includes photographs   Users can browse or search for other users   Only brief guidance is given as to how users should conduct themselves   Can make contact via onsite email
  4. 4. Brief tour of typical eDating sites   1. USA based but international membership of ‘millions’   2. Convergence of eDating and portal site   3. UK based service   4. Profile from UK site   5. ‘Success’ story
  5. 5. Methodology   23 public English language newsgroups hosted in the UK April-June 2005.   Over 1300 threads related eDating.   Responses were from 203 women and 176 men.   All participants had chosen to enter into newsgroups focused on heterosexual eDating.
  6. 6. Ethics   Newsgroups are a resource in the public domain.   All groups in the study were ‘open’ and membership was not necessary to read threads.   Anonymity of the newsgroups and identity of their members has been retained.
  7. 7. Discussing eDating   Newsgroup conversations were analysed by reading and re-reading data to identify themes.   From the analysis it was possible to develop a continuum based on ‘ideal types’ of gendered expectations of eDating.
  8. 8. Gendered expectations Men Women Game Playing -------- Romantic Love -------- Emotional Engagement Cyber sex Embodiment Pragmatic love Fantasy Trust Disclosure Disposability Reciprocation Security Online Offline Online
  9. 9. Men - Playing the game   ‘You get to play a part online, have fun, reinvent (your)self… I experienced it! A ‘sim playground !!!’’.   ‘…It is the ease with which you can dismiss the typical bullshit. If one woman starts playing games <INSERT FLUSHING SOUND HERE>.’   ‘These ladies will yak you keyboard to death… their expectations aren’t very high, just their anticipation… give her a fantasy day’.
  10. 10. Women - Emotional engagement   ‘…always be true to yourself and you will find someone of warmth, who’s giving, sincere, honest, romantic…’   ‘You are connecting with the ‘real’ inner you’s’.   ‘…somone who loves me for me, is that too hard or too much to ask?’
  11. 11. Making connections?   Seeking to move online eDating connections to ‘long-term’ offline relationships.   A diversity of intentions, perceptions, desires etc.   Search for common codes, rules, behaviours to identify and maintain connections on eDating sites that can then move offline with ‘suitable’ others.
  12. 12. Some rules for online engagement part 1 ‘Me, personally, I wouldn't physically meet someone I'd quot;metquot; online until I'd exchanged at least several substantive emails and several phone calls, so that I can get a quot;readquot; on that person's personality and intentions, and whether or not it's someone I have any interest in getting to know irl’ (in real life). I met my now-husband online. We chatted regularly on IM, via email and on the phone for nine months before we met in real life’, (Female eDater).
  13. 13. Some rules for online engagement part 2 ‘Try this sequence: 1. Join a dating site like 2.Meet folks online 3.Winnow down the selection based on exchanged emails. 4. Focus on those who seem promising to you. 5. Try some voice phone calls. 6. If things are going well, then arrange to meet, but not for sex. How about a cup of tea instead? 7. Then proceed as you would otherwise’, (Male eDater).
  14. 14. Emerging behaviours   Women feel ‘liberated’ in that they are free of offline cultural restraints about initiating and ending relationships.   Men believe that they have to ‘give emotionally’ in online interactions to successfully maintain connections.   All eDater’s place high value and credibility in what they understand to be the ‘true’ identity and shared aspirations of online connections.
  15. 15. Meeting in the middle   eDater’s are seeking what Goffman (1983) has identified as a ‘guide for action’   Minimise risk and lead to ‘successful’ offline relationship(s)   New possibilities offered by new interactive media for initiating, performing and managing relationships   Such new possibilities give rise to the emerging rules and behaviours that are akin offline courtship