Eva Illouz, in Cold Intimacies asks us to consider how technology changes notions of the body and of emotions. One of the forced rearticulations occurs in the realm of the presentation of self. As Illouz notes, when technology (specifically in the form of the Internet) mediates relationships we are simultaneously displaying our innermost private selves in an extremely public way. The subjects of our own experiences and author of what we choose to reveal yet increasingly vulnerable to the scrutiny and objectification of others.
New technology enables individuals to do background checks on potential partners, looking into financial status, marriage and divorce histories, and criminal records (see article below). One of the reasons given to support this technology is the claim that people do not always accurately represent themselves. While that is certainly true in today’s world of online dating (and has always been true), we need to think about both the consequences of such technology and interrogate whether any representation of self on the Internet is “true.”
The beauty of online self-representation is that individuals can misrepresent themselves, they can omit their negative traits, use catch phrases that may not describe them but garner attention and seem more likely to attract a mate, and can even doctor photos. Granted that this kind of misrepresentation is distinct from lying about one’s marital status but we do need to take seriously the notion that the presentation of self is always a partial truth.
The background check technology only serves to exacerbate the blurring of public and private, our simultaneous subject-object position, and allows the Internet (and consumerism) to mediate intimate relations. As Illouz notes, “the Internet radicalizes the demand that one find for oneself the best (economic and psychological) bargain” (Ilouz 2007, 86).
CNN “Is Your Date a ‘Stud’ or a ‘Dud?’ Ask Your Phone”