Reflections of RL in The Virtual World

Vol.1,No.1(2007)

Abstract
As the identity of the young is largely shaped through the feedback they receive from their peers the impression-management has become an essential part in the lives of young people, both in the real and in the virtual worlds.
The aim of the paper is to analyse how young people present themselves on the photographs of dating and communication website Rate. Rate is known as a site where people can post a short description of themselves and photos, so that other users could give their points and comments. The purpose of my study was to analyse how the youngsters on the website formulate their gender identities in order to appeal to potential partners.
Content analysis involving elements of visual analysis methods developed by Goffman (1979), Kress and van Leeuwen (1996), Kang (1997), and Bell (2001), was carried out to analyse the photos of youngsters who appeared in the TOP 100 of the most remarkable people in Rate in a period of six months. Altogether 139 women and 144 men from Rate were analysed to find out how the gender identity is reflected on the photographs.
The results suggest that the photos of the most remarkable girls play with the stereotypical codes of sexuality presented by the media with the hope of meeting the social expectations of ideal female beauty. In case of boys, two contradictory types of masculinity tend to be most popular – the age-old Macho man and 21 century Metrosexual.

Keywords:
Reflections of RL in The Virtual World
Author biography

Andra Siibak

Andra SiibakAndra Siibak, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow of Media Studies in the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Tartu. Her present research interests deal with new media audiences, generations and intergenerational relations on social media, mediation of children's ICT use and privacy on social media. Her articles have appeared in Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Cyberpsychology, Northern Lights, Journal of Nordic Digital Literacies, Young, etc.
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