Thursday, March 25, 2010

Online Dating: Phenomenon or Phreaky?

“Chivalry is dead.” – idk who originally said this.

Remember when people would meet their true love at the carnival, hop in their ferris wheel cart, write 365 letters to each other, swear we’re a bird if they’re a bird, and then get married, write a book and live long happy lives?

Probably not, but that’s how it went down in The Notebook.

My point is, for most people, that’s just not how things happen anymore. There is no courting period, there’s no wooing, and things have just gotten a whole lot less romantic. Yes, The Notebook is set in the 40s, so things were bound to change, but in my opinion, somewhere along the line, a whole lot of dating how-to info got lost in translation.

Goodbye chivalry and old-fashioned romance, hello ease of online dating.

We all know the online dating stereotypes. Losers, computer nerds living in their mother’s basement, creepy 80-year-old men posing as 24 year old multi-millionaires. The usual. Online dating has often been associated with a stigma in our culture; those who cannot get a date turn to online dating, only desperate people date online, only weirdos would go out with someone they met on a Web site. But times have changed and online dating has moved away from savior of the awkward to matchmaker for the masses.

Several movies have poked fun at online dating – there’s the famous You’ve Got Mail, where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks begin an online relationship where they end up falling in love though they actually despise each other in “real life.” He’s Just Not That Into You chronicles the difficulty of dating in today’s technological age where online dating, texting, emailing and Facebooking are common methods of pursuing (or avoiding) a relationship, and Must Love Dogs, which ends in love for two successful attractive individuals for whom dating in the real world did not work out, but their love of dogs posted online was a source of immediate attraction. Online dating takes a less than pleasant starring role in many crime dramas-unfortunately, one of the daters almost always ends up dead. Online dating has invaded multiple areas of society, and it looks like it’s here to stay.

There are hundreds of online dating sites, ranging from those like or which are general sites targeted towards everyone, to sites like, or There are even online sites to teach you how to utilize and maximize your potential on online dating sites. Here’s one example which actually has several video tutorials on topics like how to take the best profile picture, how to stay safe while dating online and which online dating site is right for you.

According to several online sources, more than 40 million people use online dating sites and the average users spends $239 dollars a year. Some of these dating websites claim to be the key to happiness. eHarmony says “On average, 236 eHarmony members marry every day; that accounts for 2% of U.S. marriages.” 2 percent? promises they’ll be so helpful, you’ll feel like you already know the person you choose to date. has helped redefine the way people meet and fall in love. provides a rich tapestry of ethnicities, interests, goals, ambitions, quirks, looks and personalities from which to choose.” But do these sites really hold the key? Is online dating really the answer?

Some research may suggest otherwise.

When you meet someone in person, your first impression is often formed by noticing things about their appearance: apparent age, height, attractiveness level, weight, physical build etc. This impression does not occur online; 1 in 10 users are scammers, with fake profiles and fake pictures, and the other 9 out of 10 commonly lie. American men lie most about age, height and income, while women tend to lie about weight, physical build and age. 1 out of 10 of these real users then leaves within the first month.

According to a CNN article, “The type of people who misrepresented themselves online is the same type of people who do so face-to-face,” saying that some people know what others like and configure their personal profiles to fit those stereotypes. These people desire inclusion, and acceptance, and feel the need to be well liked. However, these desires will persist online or not. The same article says that while men are more likely to lie than women, gender is not the biggest indicator of lying. The study attributes a propensity for lying to being a “high self-monitor.”

Self-monitoring is a part of the impression management process. Impression management, as defined by Dale Leathers and Michael H. Eaves, authors of “Succesful Nonverbal Communication,” is an individual’s conscious attempt to exercise control over selected communicative behaviors and cues. This happens in all walks of life, online and offline—but do we have more control over it online? We obviously use impression management often-when we’re applying for jobs, meeting someone new, or trying to make friends-but we cannot control our appearance. Online, we can control everything. Our name, our age, our height, our interests, our this that and the other thing.

So in the end are we all that different? Is there that much separating Noah from The Notebook and John Doe from

I think so, but then again, that’s just my opinion.

(If you’re considering online dating, check out this list of Web Sites to find the one for you! BUT—always be careful. Research shows that 1 in 10 sex offenders use online dating to meet people. Know your stuff and don’t become a statistic!)

Happy Thursday.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mighty Morphin' Social Networks!

Photo credit:

In case you didn’t catch this from the title, I was a huge Power Rangers fan when I was little. Long story short (and yes, I had to look this up-thank you Wikipedia!) an evil monster gets released, a wise sage named Zordon hears about it and makes his sidekicks find five “teenagers with attitude.” Jason Lee Scott, Kimberly Hart, Zack Taylor, Trini Kwan and Billy Cranston are given the ability to morph into Power Rangers complete with kick ass moves, weapons galore and modes of transportation known as “Zords,” which, of course, combined into a Megazord which was basically the coolest toy ever.

Anyway, for some reason I was thinking about the Power Rangers yesterday, and I realized—choosing your favorite Power Ranger (or any superhero really…batman vs. superman, batman vs. spiderman, batman vs. anybody) is a lot like picking a social network. They all have something different to offer, and they all appeal to a different sort of person.

Jason Lee Scott - The Red Ranger - your stereotypical jock. Jason was the man’s man on the show, but he was also a total sweetheart. The girls loved him, the guys wanted to be him-you know the story. Jason was the favorite Ranger of sports fans-he was a martial arts master, and according to, “an accomplished atlete, weight trainer and certified scuba diving instructor.” Totally cool right? Who knew? If the Red Ranger was your kind of guy, you probably love that ESPN is now on Twitter and that they show tweets during the show. ESPN has so many Twitter accounts you can stay up to date on anything in the sporting world you want. ACC_ESPN, ESPN_CYCING, ESPN, ESPN360—the accounts are seemingly endless.

iPhone apps like those made by Citizen Sports are also probably right up your alley. Fantasy Leagues, real time score updates, bracket challenge, news updates on any sports from NCAA football, to Golf, to Cricket to Futbol-Citizen Sports provides it. These apps also allow you to connect with friends, chat about games, or request that $10 dollars you won by betting your team would beat theirs-all from your handy dandy iPhone. Citizen Sports will also be adding new data, due to a very recent merger with Yahoo! Sports. (Have an iPhone? Want the app? Click here and check it out.)

Kimberly Hart – The Pink Ranger – I got Pink Power Ranger gloves for Christmas the same year I got a toy guitar. It was awesome. Kimberly was a gymnast, a musician and an artist. Kimberly was a valley girl, popular and witty.

Kimberly is a pop-culture blog. If this is your style, but Perez Hilton isn’t cutting it for you, check out this website, the “blogger’s choice awards” which lists some top ranking blogs from every category! Another Web Site to visit would be, which seems to be a site for everything. According to its "about" section, “ is a social media site where passionate fans interact in thousands of music communities.” But it seems to be so much more--It has tabs for music news, photos, galleries, videos, community, artists and contests. It has a live twitter feed, one of the cover stories is about LOST, there’s a picture of Megan Fox and another of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter-this website seems to have all of its bases covered!

Zack Taylor – The Black Ranger – Wikipedia describes Zack as: enjoying athletics, dancing, parties, girls, good jokes, his friends and the people around him; confident and positive; created his own fighting style; resourceful. AKA Zack did everything. So what’s a social network that will combine anything and everything for you, according to your own specific interests? I’m new to StumbleUpon, so I had to do some researching. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a website that allows you to browse things on the web-at the click of a button. You tell Stumble your interests, and it “stumbles upon” pages you might find interesting. You can like things, share things, and save favorites. I clicked through four pages and got a recipe for crispy broccoli, a video about stairs that people turned into a piano, cool 3-d art, and a site with ghost stories on it. This may be the ultimate time waster.

Trini Kwan – The Yellow Ranger – Like the others, she is a kung-fu killer. Trini is an intellectual, soft spoken, polite, and an environmentalist devoted to saving the Earth. I had to do some real research for this one. I’m all for protecting the Earth, but I’m not active in the Green movement, and didn’t even know where to begin looking for a “GREEN” social network. (p.s. the Yellow Ranger was green before green was cool.) And then I found this article from 2007, discussing how social networking may be a place for the Green movement to spread its roots. Then I found Wow. “TreeHugger is the leading media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream.” This site is popular too! Check out the numbers:

People can comment, start a forum, interact with others, or just read articles, watch videos, or find out “How to Go Green” while visiting the site.

Billy Cranston – The Blue Ranger – AKA The brains behind the operation. Wikipedia calls him the stereotypical “nerd.” Nonetheless, the other Rangers loved him and he was part of the big happy crime-fighting family. Billy wasn’t just smart, he was super-smart, and the team knew it. Billy would create all the gadgets the team used throughout the years to beat the bad guys. Billy would probably enjoy a site like ResearchGate, a social network for scientists. It allows scientists, researchers and creators to post info, analyze other’s information, comment, collaborate, meet virtually etc.

So I know this post was long, but the point is, there’s a social network out there for everyone. Your options are not confined to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or MySpace (though the Power Rangers would obvi be Facebook friends). To find the social network for you, or just to explore the other social networks out there, check out this list compiled by Mashable.

Oh, and Happy Thursday!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

E-mail as an online social network

"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." - Cool Hand Luke

One year, for my birthday, I got a Winnie the Pooh Stationery Box. I had some stationery with butterflies on it too, but I definitely liked Winnie the Pooh better. I used this stationery like it was my job. I used to write letters to my best friend on Long Island, my elementary school friends, my cousin and my aunts and uncles.

That stationery set was the last I ever received—because then we got a computer, and letters were out and e-mail was in.

E-mail is an often overlooked online experience. When we think about social networking, we often jump to sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Twitter. But what about e-mail? Shouldn’t it be included too?

Think about it—every single student at this University has a account. So do TAs, professors, advisors, administrators—even departments have UMD addresses. Do they all have Facebook? No. MySpace? No. LinkedIn? No. Twitter? Half my friends don’t even understand what Twitter is, let alone have one. Whether or not we use our address or have it forwarded to another e-mail provider, we all have one. E-mail is an often overlooked social networking tool.

I guess it boils down to how you define social networking. defines online social networking as:

A Web site that provides a virtual community for people interested in a particular subject or just to "hang out" together. Members create their own online "profile" with biographical data, pictures, likes, dislikes and any other information they choose to post. They communicate with each other by voice, chat, instant message, videoconference and blogs, and the service typically provides a way for members to contact friends of other members.”

Now think about your email provider (or providers—I personally have 3 email addresses.) UMD mail is simpler than most, but if you have yahoo or gmail, hotmail or aol you probably have the majority of the options mentioned in the definition of online social networking. Admittedly, it lacks the glitz and glamour of sites like Facebook, but it definitely gets the job done. It connects you to people-whether 1-on-1 or 1-on-10 (etc.)-it allows you to share pictures, documents or folders, and it's private. Whereas many sites are specialized (Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for colleagues) email allows you to send pictures of your spring break trip to your friends, a list of snacks to your mother who's coming to UMD to save you from diner food, one of those super annoying messages about how you'll die in 10 days if you don't forward this story, or a cover letter and resume to a prospective employer.

So how 'bout it? How do you guys feel? Is e-mail online social networking or is it just a way for us to communicate?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Response to Cell Phone Study

"When it comes to privacy and accountability, people demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else." -- David Brin, American sci-fi writer

Girl in the blue shirt broke up with her girlfriend, very tall Maryland guy “CAN’T HEAR YOU,” drunk girl walking home “doesn’t need you to come get me, I’m FINE,” guy leaving my COMM class apparently really hates our teacher, and loud girl in the library does not enjoy when people, namely me, politely ask her to shut up or go talk somewhere else. (There are shhhh! Signs everywhere. It’s a library, what did she expect? I’m not trying to be the library police, I just want to study. She might’ve been annoyed, but I was thanked by several people on my way back to my seat.)

How did I learn all these things? It really was not that hard. I listened. I walked around campus for the last week and I eavesdropped on every single phone call I passed. Mind you, I was forced into eavesdropping on most of them because most people

A. Don’t care how loud they’re talking

B. Don’t know how loud they’re talking

C. Really want me to hear their conversation.

This week, in JOUR289i, Info3pt0, we had to read a study titled “Cellphones in public: social interactions in a wireless era.” The study identifies cell phone users as singles and withs, singles being those who are alone, and withs being those who are accompanied by at least one other person. The majority of the people I noticed on campus were singles, but my observation of my friends’ cell phone usage qualified each of us as a with, since we were together.

(I believe that these, along with other terms like normative cell phone behaviors and caller hegemony were easy to understand, and largely correct.)

Although this study was written five years ago, and the world of cell phone technology changes weekly, the validity of the study is still relevant. While phones have changed, most phone-behaviors have not. The study discussed nonverbal communication while talking on the phone (with the caller and with the other person they’re with.) I noticed this quite often in my observations, and many of the motions seemed to be frustration – waving hands, shaking head, rolling eyes – and these motions were the same for both singles and withs. I also noticed myself engaging in “other activities” when my friends were on the phone. I would check my phone, read the Diamondback, pick up my laptop, drink my coffee – something to occupy me while I was essentially being ignored. Interestingly – all of my friends turned away while talking on the phone, avoiding eye contact like the study suggested (another reason I believe the results are still very valid.)

This was an interesting week for me to do this study, since my phone is more or less on the fritz. My own cell phone behaviors were very sporatic—since my phone likes to turn off whenever it pleases, so my calls were often interrupted, cut short, or prevented altogether. This led to many frustrated nonverbals by me, in addition to a bunch of “Seriously!?” and “This is driving me crazy” and a few other choice words after each ended communication attempt.

I personally have never witnessed anyone using a cell phone to cheat. I have noticed texting during classes, I myself text during class, and I’ve even noticed texting during exams, which I can’t do since I need to focus on one thing at a time. I also notice people playing games on their cell phones in class. One of my friends has Tetris downloaded on their iPhone and I’ve seen her get a new high score several times in COMM class (the same class that I caught the boy talking on the phone about how much he hated it…hmm.) Another cell phone behavior I notice a lot is people using their cell phone as a flashlight. People drop things, and everyone pulls out a phone. People can’t see where the last step is, somebody’s right there with their phone. I do it too, but my battery life just is not what it used to be, so I try to stray away from that action.

All in all my studies of people’s cell phone behavior were interesting. I certainly heard some conversations that I did not care for, did not care about, and definitely would have lived if I hadn’t heard them. A lot of the time I am amazed at just how far people are willing to go on their cell phones—people have conversations that I would not even begin to have in public, especially on a college campus where any number of people you may know could very well be in your immediate vicinity.

In the end I guess we’re all guilty. We’ve all done it sometime, right?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Phones of the future, straight from the past

Last time I talked about today’s views of cool future phones. But we already own pretty cool phones, we’ve all seen an iPhone or a BlackBerry, and it seems that each new phone has something better than the rest.

But what about before there were cell phones?

Star Trek’s Captain Kirk had his own communication device. The “communicator” allowed Captain Kirk direct contact with his ship, in the event Kirk ever needed Scotty to, ya know, “Beam me up!” The man credited with the invention of the cell phone, Martin Cooper, says that Star Trek’s communicator was an inspiration for the world’s first mobile device. -->

Dick Tracy is a hard-ass, crime-fighting, bad-guy-catching, super-smart detective from a comic strip that ran from the 1930s till the late 1970s. One of Dick Tracy’s crime-fighting tools was a two-way wrist radio that allowed him to call the police department when he was in pursuit of super villains.

LG seems to have stolen this idea to make a device Tracy would’ve been jealous of. The touch screen wrist watch was supposed to debut last year, though I’ve never seen it.

Ever seen Get Smart? A comedy satiring the secret agent lifestyle, the star of the show, Maxwell Smart, or Agent 86, had phones incorporated into several of his items of clothing throughout the show. Most notable was his shoe phone, which, of course, required he removed his shoe each time he needed to use it. What if he was in a foot chase and needed back up? Well, I have no clue.

Last but certainly not least, everyone’s favoring falling-with-style toy, Buzz Lightyear. Buzz had a panel on the arm of his space suit that he could use to contact Star Command (or thought he had, since he was obviously oblivious to the fact that was a toy until Sid tries to kill them in as sadistic a nature as possible.)


I’m certainly less creative than the producers/writers/geniuses behind these ideas, so as I grew up, my fake cell phone consisted of: my hand. Lame, I know. But it’s a start right?

Anyone know of any other (what I’m calling) past future views of cell phones? Let me know if you do! They’re pretty entertaining…


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back to the Future 3.19: Cell Phones!

Photo from:

"I like my new telephone, my computer works just fine, my calculator is perfect, but Lord, I miss my mind!" - Anonymous, but funny.

What’s 2 pounds, has to be recharged after every half-hour of use, and costs $3,995?

Why, the first cell phone of course!

Hitting the markets in 1984, Motorola’s first cell phone DynaTAC8000X, was more than 12 inches long -- Imagine trying to fit that in your pocket.

We’ve obviously come a long way since then. We now have phones capable of lasting days without being recharged, we can send messages, we can take and send pictures – all on one handy, less than 2 pounds 12 inches, device.

Even with the glitz and glamour of the current phones on the market today, we are constantly dreaming up new ones. Phones with projectors, phones that can transfer talk to text, phones that will gather all of our news and read it to us, phones that can do our math homework: WHATEVER. The crazy thing is, these dreams can be reality. It was the late great Dr. Seuss who said “Oh the things you can think up if only you try;” try we do, and succeed we will. Phone technology is becoming faster, smarter, quicker, better and it’s becoming more and more personalized, which is just what we, as consumers, crave.

A 2009 CNN-Technology article discusses how the cell phone is battling to become the only thing taking up space in our pockets. (That still wouldn’t have helped the DynaTac8000x. Seriously? Did you have to carry a separate bag for that thing?) Some analysts say that within five years, mobile phones in the United States will be able to make electronic payments, open doors, access subways, clip coupons and possibly act as another form of identification.” (One slight problem-these phones would make Identity Theft for Dummies a whole lot simpler: steal the phone!)

This article on is called “Future Phones: The 17 Coolest Concept Cell Phones.” They are not kidding, some of these things are awesome. Necessary? Probably not. Superfluous? Probably. Awesome?