Gone are the days of writing a lonely hears ad, or to a newspaper to reach out to your ‘Rush Hour Crush’. Apps such as Tinder, Grindr and Happn are leading the way in today’s dating world. Blurring the line between the real and the online, we are able to locate matches in real time based on GPS locations, and speedily swipe through the faces of potential matches to choose who we would like to talk to, or hook up with. Increased immediacy is bringing people closer together, but is our digital deception pushing us further away from ourselves?

Initiating relationships online involves important editing and decisions on self disclosure, and Goffman suggests that this is an important part of social interaction. In a study by Catalina Toma,  Jeffrey Hancock and Nicole Ellison entitled ‘An Examination of Deceptive Self-Presentation in Online Dating Profiles’ their surveys report that men lied more about their height, and women lied more about their weight (pg 1023). Since the invention of the internet, the computer has become an extension of our bodies. We are being connected in increasingly intimate ways. With mobile devices constantly at our fingertips, Jeffery Hancock questions whether this is making us a deceptive species.

He discusses the fact that we, as a species have been communicating linguistically for approximately 50,000-100,000 years but have only been writing for 5ooo years. He says that we have evolved to talk in a way where there is no record, so we have evolved to communicate without leaving a trace.

‘We’ve evolved to speak in a way in which our words disappear, but we’re in an environment where we’re recording everything’

-Jeffery Hancock

We are constantly leaving a digital trace, and the majority of our communications are recorded in outboxes or message threads, so it is now so possible to retrace and analyse our lies.

In regards to online dating, Sean Rad, Cofounder and CEO of Tinder said that they ‘designed Tinder to emulate the way people meet in the real world’. With over 26 million matches per day, it’s one of the most used social applications in the world, monopolising our visibility. And it’s the same with the new application Happn. Didier Rappaport, the CEO and co-founder of the app created it as he thought other existing apps were ‘too virtual’ and so he ‘wanted to bring back the real world into the dating space’.  The app connects you with people that you cross paths with, in real life and real time, therefore encouraging you to communicate with real people.

After speaking to two of my girl friends (a couple who are both bisexual, but currently together) they said they have seen girls in public then seen them on the apps, like Happn. They have also seen girls in real life then looked on an app to see if they could hunt them down. They predict that there will soon be apps that scan your face and match you with someone that’s based on your attractiveness and location. (I asked how an algorithm could judge an individual’s level of attractiveness, but they weren’t too sure) These apps are superficial and wholly based on appearance and first impressions.

We select the best parts of ourselves that we want people to know about first, to exaggerate our best features and identity. These will be signals to show how attractive we are.

‘For adults as well as children, computers, reactive and interactive, offer companionship without the mutuality and complexity of a human relationship. They seduce because they provide a chance to be in complete control, with building one’s own private world’

-(Turkle, 2005)


Sherry Turkle suggests that the Internet is a place where the user can be in control, and this definitely applies to internet dating. The individual constructs the ideal version of themselves and moulds it to how they want to be perceived, and I am guilty of doing this too. I matched with my current boyfriend on tinder before we met (although we met through friends, we never spoke through the app) and looking back I suppose I had subconsciously edited my tinder profile too. I carefully selected my photos, and put little information in my bio, and I suppose this mirrored how I wanted to appear.



‘The pattern of the deceptions, frequent but slight, suggest that deception in online dating profiles is strategic. Participants balanced the tension between appearing as attractive as possible while also being perceived as honest’

-Hancock, J.T., Toma, C. and Ellison, N. (2007)

Although Hancock’s research found that ‘the widespread concern regarding the pervasiveness of deception in online dating is only partly justified’ (from The Truth About Lying In Online Dating Profiles) I still believe that if a study was conducted of young adults in London the results would be very different!



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Bloomberg (2013) Is The Tinder App For More Than Hook-Ups? Available at: (Accessed: 10.03.16)

Bloomberg (2013) Breaking up? There’s An App For That Available at: (Accessed: 10/03/16)

Ellison, N., Heino, R. and Gibbs, J. (2006) Managing impressions online: Self‐presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 11(2),

Gibbs, J. L., Ellison, N. B., & Heino, R. D. (2006). Self-presentation in online personals: The role of anticipated future interaction, self- disclosure, and perceived success in Internet dating. Communication Research, 33, 1-26

Hancock, J.T., Toma, C. and Ellison, N., 2007, April. The truth about lying in online dating profiles. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 449-452). ACM.

‘The Secret World Of Tinder’ (2015) Episode 1, Channel 4, Thursday 14th May, 2015. Available at: (Accessed: 07/03/16).Sigee, R. (2016) ‘Rise and grind; Trends Catwalk shows, pop star hook-ups and fashion adverts are turning Grindr into a major digital player’, The Evening Standard (Edition 1) 11th February, Pg. 37, 38.

Turkle, S. (2005) The second self: Computers and the human spirit. Mit Press.




  • Grindr has 1 million users per minute worldwide
  • Fashion designer J W Anderson decided to live-stream his menswear show from London Collections: Men on the app
  • Diesel have also chosen to use Grindr with its Intimates campaign.
  • When you block a potential match, a pop-up suggests you might prefer a tanned hottie in bulging pants, or more specifically the pants themselves

“I’d look good on you. Get in now.”

Grindr is being used as a platform for advertising beyond the normal adverts (Uber, Amazon, Twitter) due to the niche consumer that Grindr serves. Offering mobile relationship networking exclusively to the gay and bisexual male demographic, J. W. Anderson and Diesel have tapped into this community to exclusively attract men who are browsing the app for hook ups.

Diesel have used emojis and ~text talk~ to mirror the conversations happening within the app, whilst eroticism is present throughout J. W. Anderson’s collections.

“The stream will be a way for Grindr to add a boost of positivity and innovation to their reputation – one currently arguably defined by late night cruising and chemsex”



  • ‘behind every glance is a judgment’

  • women are under constant surveillance
  • success of her life depends how she is thought of by men
  • female privileged europeans-a site to be looked at
  • women are the subject to nude european painting
  • kenneth clark, being naked is simply being without clothes. nude is art
  • berger-nude is seen as object, naked is being oneself
  • genesis- adam and eve: nakedness is created in the mind of the beholder. woman is subservient, shameful. figleaves to highlight shame. shameful because of spectator, not each other. they are naked as you see them


8095646657_48fc578da8_o.jpgsusanna-and-the-elders.jpgSusannah and the elders-we join the elders to spy on her. She sees herself as a sight for men. The mirror soon became a symbol for the vanity of women.

  • hypocrasy- morally condems woman for looking at herself, when man painted her. related to biblical blame with Eve.
  • to be naked is not to be disguised.
  • women are assessed and judged as sights
  • sign of submission on his demand
  • nakedness is celebration of actions of love. actions absorb each other
  • facial expressions are a response to man who is looking at her (the spectator or the owner)
  • hair is associated with sexual passion. hair is limited so man can monopolise her sexual passion
  • women feed appetite, not to have any of their own. languid poses/ minimal actions/silent/mute
  • european oil painting -dürer believed in ideal nude-constructed perfect bodies. humanist idealism. do they celebrate the women or the male voyeur ?
  • narcissism-related to identity. sense of identity.
  • how do i see myself, naked or nude? we are told that female bodies are beautiful and if not we should do something about it


Today only the format has changed, there are now more platforms for narcissism, on the networked society.

The male gaze, either heterosexual or homosexual.

Both men and women compete with the gaze.

who is pleasing who and for what benefit

Society today is purely a continuation of the patriarchy these paintings express.



The Arnolfini Portrait – Jan Van Eyck




‘Visibility is a trap’

-Michel Foucault

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 11.11.42Bentham, Foucalt, and The Panopticon of the Networked Society

We have signed up to social media on the pretence of freedom. By doing so, we have handed over our privacy rights in exchange for a platform to self publish our thoughts to a greater audience. However, there are many parallels with the Networked Society and Jeremy Bentham’s 1787 Panopticon Penitentiary. Although we seek freedom of expression, we are in fact victims to the business world of profit, profit, profit.

The prison consists of a semi circle of cells with an inspector in the central, darkened position. Prisoners assume they are being constantly watched, as the inspector becomes omnipresent with a almighty mystified power. This means that prisoners are governed by a disembodied gaze, rather than the conventional present guards. The punishment takes the role of a psychological theatre performance, rather than physical torture or beatings of the 18th Century prison system. This is not intended as reformation, but instead it is driven by a utilitarian force.

However this creates a paradox. Bentham wanted to ‘illuminate’ fictions in his philosophical writings but by creating ‘God’ he created his own fiction in the shape of the ‘dark spot’.By illuminating all spaces, power and control can flourish. Looking at Michel Foucault’s ‘Power/Knowledge’ writings, there are parallels with The Panopticon. The purpose of the period of Enlightenment was to ‘break up the patches of darkness’ that lie deep within man and society and to rely solely upon science and rational thought. Foucault states that ‘power through transparency’ is crucial to many problem areas, including the prison system-power is exercised through visibility and driven by fear of darkness especially in the Enlightenment period. Once you have control over the imagination of the public then you have control over the people-there is no privacy in The Panopticon.

‘Transparency’ is a buzz word of the 21st Century. It permeates today’s society and has been so widely used when it comes to exposing the truths of today’s politics and the government. Public opinion can be used effectively as an element in power and control.

Is social media the eye of power? If I break down Bentham’s theory into three simple points, there is a clear relationship with social media.

  • The inspectors play the role of the all seeing God
  • The prisoners police themselves
  • The punishment is purely a fiction, based on performance

This can be compared with social media platforms, for example, Facebook.

  • Our “friends” and “followers” play the role of the all seeing God
  • We filter and police our own accounts

We alter our behaviour online because we know we are being continuously watched. Referring back to Erving Goffman’s theory (‘The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life’, 1959) here we are giving an impression to our audiences, as a deliberate and thought out performance. But is this always a genuine performance?

We edit the version of ourselves online, as a reaffirmation and celebration of society. And the crucial thing is that we, ourselves, are in control of our own performances-I believe this is Bentham’s Panopticon coming into effect. We are policing ourselves.

And as Jeffery Hancock (‘The Practice of Lying in the Digital Age’, 2009) talks about how performance of the self is no longer a simple act, due to the multiple platforms now available-technology can hamper a lie. The Channel Four documentary ‘The Rich Kids of Instagram’ (2015) highlights Instagram accounts of young wealthy adults who regularly update their followers on their lavish lifestyles. For example, @lanascolaro, the heiress and socialite.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 18.53.37Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 18.35.42Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 18.34.10Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 18.34.37

As Andrew Keen says ‘We are transforming the old world of privacy into one of publicness’

I just believe that she is capturing the right image, at the right angle, with the right lighting and the right filter.

‘The panoptic mechanism arranges spatial unities that make it possible to see constantly and to recognize immediately. In short, it reverses the principle of the dungeon…—to enclose, to deprive of light and to hide—it preserves the first and eliminates the other two. Full lighting and the eye of a supervisor capture better than darkness…Visibility is a trap.’-Discipline and Punish / “Surveillance and Punishment”philosopher Michel Foucault



Utopia-Conditioned by nostalgia, this is a fictional society or narrative of how things could be.

Utopianism-This is a way of thinking or acting, where people arrange their lives in radically different ways

Cyberutopian-The transformative power of the web to change societies for the better

The entire history of the internet can be condensed down to the last three decades, meaning we are still dealing with a widely unknown subject. The possibilities for the advancements in technology are so mind blowing and vast; who knows how our lives will change in the next 10, 20, 30 years. The breadth and depth to the internet allows illegal activities to happen with little policing, as individuals live out their wildest dreams in the networked society, with many parallels running with the concept of the carnival.


Talk of a utopian future spurs images of hope and possibilities for the future, not necessarily just the advancement in technology. Instead it “analyses in which the use of specific technologies plays a key role in shaping a utopian social vision, in which their use easily makes life enchanting and liberating for nearly everyone” (Kling, 1996, p.42). Just as the early 20th century utopia for a hobo was ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountain’, the Internet provides a place of power reversal, where the powerless have control.


The network is a platform for individuality and expression-and Evgeny Morozov talks in depth how good it is a place for democracy, aiding the information revolution. With technology, democracy is inevitable, due to cheap content production and reproduction. The younger generation are more likely to demand democracy, known as “cyber activism” however we are still less inclined to participate whether it’s online or not. The Internet allows for anonymous expression. I feel that most young people are more likely to publish their thoughts into the chasm that is the Internet, where they can carefully type out and edit their opinions, rather than voicing and acting upon them in reality.

There is a lot of talk about digital natives and digital immigrants but Morozov asks whether we should be actually talking about digital renegades and digital captives, and how technology influences our civic engagement.

‘Are they the “digital renegades,” ready to leverage the power of social networking and text messaging to topple their undemocratic governments? Or are they “digital captives,” whose political and social dissent has been significantly neutered by the Internet, turning them into happy consumers of Hollywood’s digital marginalia?’

-Evgeny Morozov, Digital renegades or captives?

Howcroft and Fitzgerald talk about technological utopia as including ‘extended democracy, personal liberation, enhanced powers of organization and coordination, and renewal of community’ (1998) But there is always a dystopia vision to parallel utopia.

‘Much less frequently, authors highlight the more negative vision whereby technology exacerbates human misery as individuals become increasingly controlled by what they fail to understand’ -(Howcroft, D. and Fitzgerald, B. 2998 pg 5)

Is the utopian dream compatible with imposing it on others? Can personal freedom be achieved through unfreedom?

Steven Johnson, author of ‘Future Perfect’ talks of the importance of peer narratives and peer progressives. He talks about Wikipedia (creating a global encyclopedia) and Kickstarter (supporting creative work) as glowing examples of the potential behind peer networks.

‘it is a practical, evolving reality’

-Steven Johnson

Bitcoin miners work together to confirm transactions and double check each other’s work to eliminate fraud and mistakes. By writing down all transactions in the “block”, and submitting them to the “block chain” to be submitted to the network, the individuals are rewarded with bitcoins themselves. This is a crucial part of the network, and without this peer network, there would be no bitcoin.

Approximately 44% of the currency’s users self-identify as Libertarians, due to the anonymity of the transactions and the lack of government interference. The Bitcoin experience gives us a glimpse of Libertarian utopia. However the risks involved in Bitcoin are very high, because of the lack of power involved. The people are policing themselves, there are no police.



Adams, C. J. (1996) This is not our father’s pornography: sex, lies and computers, in Ess C (ed.)Philosophical Perspectives on Computer-Mediated Communication, State University of New York Press, Albany, 124-170.
Howcroft, D. and Fitzgerald, B. (1998) From Utopia to Dystopia: the twin faces of the Internet. In Information Systems: Current Issues and Future Changes, Proceedings of IFIP WG8 (Vol. 2, pp. 49-70)
Kling, R (1996) ed. Computerisation and Controversy, Academic Press, San Diego, 2nd edition.
Lavorgna, A., 2016. How the use of the internet is affecting drug trafficking practices. The internet and drug markets, pp.85-90.
Nakamoto, S. (2008) Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system.
Morozov, E. (2008) The New York Times Digital renegades, or captives? Access at:


The networked society has altered Erving Goffman’s 1950s ideas of the presentation of the self. We are no longer communicating through his idea of the one to one performance; technology has instead enabled us to go beyond this, altering how we perform for our audiences.

Goffman suggests that individuals create their own reality and compares it metaphorically to a performance. We act intentionally or unintentionally as we are not always aware of the impressions that we give, or give off. He states that we do not ever have a fixed “self” therefore we are always altering our performance depending on the audience.

The audience ‘seek to acquire information’ about the individual. This could be the performer’s status- whether it is financial or social. This information is collected through ‘carriers’ or sign vehicles. Our body language, accent, clothing, handshakes all add to this.

Our performances are a reaffirmation and a celebration of society. We tend to incorporate and exemplify the values of today’s society.

‘To stay in one’s room away from the place where the party is given… is to stay away from where reality is being performed. The world, in truth, is a wedding’
-The Presentation of Everyday Self, Erving Goffman

Public performance is no longer a simple act, like Goffman suggests. The distance between the performer and the audience provides a variety of ways to lie. Technology today provides opportunities for us to hide, but also to reveal ourselves.

Technology can enable various forms of deception-we are able to lie in new ways, through different media and on different platforms. We are communicating through Facebook, email and Skype, which is affecting how honest and self disclosive we are. Our communications are now manipulable, visual and textual.

Naturally we expose our lies through physical give-aways such as eye contact aversion, pausing during speech and sweaty palms.The key element is that we are able to communicate in absentia. There are no clues to expose our digital deceptions.

Even Goffman suggests that an individual may engage in strategic activities “to convey an impression to others which it is in his interests to convey” (1959, p. 4) which I believe is a natural thing to do. You want to impress your peers and your friends, and you might tell a white lie along the way to get the upper hand.

Hancock cites research that shows people are more honest about deeply personal things when communicating with or through a computer than with another person. Perceived anonymity has been argued to increase disinhibition. And I have found similar results through my own research.

After speaking to a group of my male friends they all seemed to say similar things. They often mentioned using sites such as omegle or chat roulette and making up stories to tell their random matches on webcam. They would lie about who they are, where they come from, and what they do, but they all insisted it was just a ‘harmless’ way to ‘pass the time’. They all agreed that they only do this when they are using an anonymous platform, and would never exaggerate so much if their name was attached to their account. However, from speaking to a group of my girl friends, they claimed to have never drastically over-exaggerated or lied online. Whether this is a lie itself I will never know. 

In a study into behaviour online, professors Keith Wilcox of Columbia University and Andrew T. Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh researched the question, “Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control.” In a series of five experiments, the authors investigated the effects social networking has on individuals. Wilcox and Stephen’s main argument is that “people present a positive self-view to others” when online, leading to a increase in self-esteem and decrease in self-control. Referring back to Goffman, and how we give impressions to those close whom we want to impress, I can see how this may escalate to a situation whereby the individual has no control.

For example, take any episode of Catfish.


Fitzgerald, B (2012). Facebook Psychology: 7 Reasons Why We Act Differently Online. Available: (Last accessed 10th March 2016)

Goffman, E (2012) The presentation of self in everyday life [1959]. Contemporary sociological theory, pp.53

Hancock, J (2009) The Practice Of Lying in the Digital Age: Deception From The Ancient Empires

Lock, C (2004) Deception Detection Psychologists try to learn how to spot a liar SCIENCE NEWS-WASHINGTON-166, pp.72-73.

Wilcox, K and Stephen, A. T. (2013) Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control. Journal of Consumer Research. 40 (1), 10.1086/668794.