Platforms such as Tinder have led to a new way of flirting. In theory, it is especially attractive for people who, for various reasons, do not frequent the traditional courtship scenarios and prefer to exercise it under the protection of the tranquillity -and discretion- of their mobile screen. But they have also brought with them a curious dichotomy. In preliminary message exchange, when the virtual relationship is incipient, to what extent do you have to lie, to look more attractive, and to what extent do you have to tell the truth, if you are looking for a like-minded person? David Markowitz, professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, in the United States (USA), and his colleague Jeffrey Hancock, from Stanford (USA), asked themselves this question in 2018, and carried out a study to find the answer.
Researchers have analyzed the degree of honesty and the most common types of lies spilled by users. in the first exchanges of messages (what they call the “discovery phase”). To this end, they analysed the chats of 110 people using these dating channels. The result, published in the magazine Journal of Communication is quite surprising, in that it reveals that there’s a kind of lie characteristic of these platforms.
Evidently, in the flirting by the traditional method one can also lie. In fact, more with impunity: face-to-face lies are blown away by the wind, while those released in Tinder are written down and can be revised. That’s why in the field online are all about what Markowitz and Hancock call “butler lies” (butler lies, in English). More than falsehoods, they are deliberate inaccuracies, misunderstandings that are difficult to verify, that do not compromise us or close doors. “Technology facilitates butler lies because the mobile offers ambiguity about where that person is or what he or she is doing at that moment. These vagueness lead to a kind of lie that’s rarer to occur. offline”describes David Markowitz, who explains why the term was chosen: “A butler could say, ‘The Lord is not at home,’ and if it was a lie, the visitor would never know. Technology now has similar functions.
These lies are used for two purposes. The first is to strengthen the connection with the other person by making them believe that we share their tastes. An example: to affirm that we like Coldplay just because he said he likes Coldplay. It’s the “presentation lies.” The second is to control the Timer of appointments: postpone, space, or cancel appointments with credible excuses that do not involve gourds. This category would include statements such as: “Tomorrow I can’t meet because I have to take my mother to the doctor”. Even if that relationship prospered, the other side would never know whether or not we had to take our mother to the doctor that day. It’s the “availability lies.”
The study also identifies some of the most common lies in these channels, whose prototypes could be:
My sister called me and she’s coming to my house for dinner.
The classic “availability lie”. It is an excuse taken from the work of Markowitz and Hancock; the participant who used it acknowledged that it was false. The message continued: “We can postpone, if you want. I apologize,” from what the investigators infer that “the issuer wants to avoid meeting his date but, at the same time, preserve the relationship”. They classify it as “extremely fallacious”.
‘I love dogs, too’.
Frequently, misleading statements are intended to appear a good match to the other user. As he had previously written that he was a dog lover, the participant counterattacked with an improvised admiration for the dogs… completely fraudulent: he admitted to the researchers that he does not like dogs and that, in fact, they give him allergies.
I could spend hours watching that flip series.
Same strategy, different content. Here the participant tries to show a common interest, in order to “to provide the basis for future communications and to appear more attractive”.
I wish I could go.
Many people also use these kinds of lies to hide their beliefs or emotional states. One user explained to the researchers that he resorted to it simply because he did not want to stay; so he chose to state precisely the opposite, with a technique that also allowed him to avoid the encounter without giving explanations. For the authors of the study, it is a lie with a certain “social” quality: saves the caller’s face and leads to an upcoming meeting.
I can’t write to you because my cell phone’s broken.
The pretext of the technology exempts the user from guilt, who supposedly cannot continue with the communication for reasons beyond his control. The author of this message confessed in the studio that his mobile was working perfectly; instead, he felt that he was being “stalked” by too many suitors. These data suggest,” says Markowitz, “that mobile media can act as a buffer to delay communication.
Tonight better not. “I’ve had a horrible day and I’m exhausted.
Putting the blame on work is a very interesting apology, because when we say that the long day has left us exhausted it even seems that we are doing so out of deference to the other user, who will surely prefer to see us in full swing. At the same time, we remain responsible and hardworking people.
A risky strategy adopted by men and women
According to Markowitz, men and women alike lie in dating applications. Yet, researchers warn, interaction on these platforms is generally honest. Only 7% of the messages analyzed were false. In Markowitz’s opinion, this makes sense: “The main purpose of quotes online -is to find someone to date and presumably spend the rest of your life with. People recognize that deception, to a certain extent, can undermine this goal, especially if the lies are offensive or risky.
Markowitz adds that “a little deception will probably go unnoticed or will not end a relationship, but big lies (if detected) will. Hence, as the couple of investigators discovered, people looking for a one-night relationship lie more than those who yearn to find a partner.