Almjeld, “A Rhetorician’s Guide to Love”

Almjeld’s rhetorical analysis of her dating profile on Match.com makes visible the ways such dating sites the site design and conventions script users into “prescribed identities and embodiments online and how such performances tend to bias normative heterosexuality” (72). Almjeld is centrally interested in understanding the kinds of options available on dating interfaces in terms of representation and identity; specifically, she questions how such virtual spaces shape those options of representation. As she argues, “online daters must rhetorically craft a sort of avatar or signifier for themselves in order to interact with others” (73). In other words, creation of an identity or avatar is a ticket for passage into the space. However, the hetereo-noramtive “gender scripts” within the space “are often so subtle and even naturalized…that it is difficult and at points impossible to resist participating in the false dichotomies and stereotypes” (73). “It is important to realize that most every keystroke…has an impact on the ways users see themselves and the way they wish to be seen. And most often, because the power and influence of the profile template remains invisible to users, those performing dater have little or no control over their performative act” (74).

One of the key connections that Almjeld makes is tying online dating sites to 19th century commonplace books, since the commonplace book, much like dating sites, had the purpose of helping to “prepare composers to publically enact social scripts fo gender and class that will provide entry into a given society or role” (75). “online daters demonstrate belonging through textual production. Daters often judge one another’s intellect (Baker 2005) and charisma based on writing fluency, grammatical correctness, and allusions to other texts, and so, as with common place books, originality does not seem nearly as important in online dating as is the recognition of and ability to wield existing texts and codes” (75).

 

 

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