Online Dating: Happily Ever After or a Recipe for Disaster?

Is happily ever after just a click away?

Is happily ever after only a click away? Americans seem to believe this sentiment more and more each year, as the online dating industry receives $1.049 Billion in annual revenue, according to reports aggregated by Statistic Brain. In addition to these specialized websites, people also meet and start romantic relationships with people via social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Despite the popularity of online dating , there are many privacy concerns a great deal of people do not consider upon logging on. How much information are users really exposing about themselves? Are prospective romantic partners telling the truth about themselves or exaggerating or even blatantly lying to each other? Is there trust between these individuals? Most importantly, are these sites effective in helping one find their future spouse or partner?

A study Eli Finkel, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, conducted reveals that two people who meet online could be equally as incompatible as a pair who meets at random, reported The Huffington Post. This is because they have yet to meet in person and may not be compatible once they physically meet. Privacy concerns and none or limited face-to-face contact could result in disaster in some online dating situations.

 

[Image by flickr user GabrielaP93 / CC licensed]

 

While many people were initially skeptical of online dating, it quickly became a popular way for people to attempt find a romantic partner. The 2004 film A Cinderella Story, starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray, is an example of how mass media has embraced online dating, featuring two teens who initially meet and fall in love in an online chat room. While the pair actually attends the same high school and eventually discovers each other’s identities, their courtship occurs online.

However, a real-life example of how online dating went wrong is captured in the 2010 documentary Catfish, a confirmed true story so shocking that multiple media outlets still doubt its authenticity. The film documents when New York City photographer Nev Schulman met an eight-year-old artist named Abby who seemed to be talented beyond her years. He soon met her 19-year-old sister Megan on Facebook and they began dating exclusively online for several months. However, after some suspicious, Schulman traveled to Megan’s home in Michigan only to discover it was all a scam. The pictures were of a stranger named Aimee and Megan was actually married woman Angela Wesselman, who told ABC she has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Schulman was duped so badly that he released the documentary and now even hosts an MTV show to help prevent online daters from being scammed further.

There are also many online dating fraud scams that involve supposed potential partners stealing money, such as a recent scam in Texas where a woman lost more than $6,000, reported KTXS.

Sites such as joingrouper.com promote immediate social outings. Screenshot by author Rebecca Lundberg

In order to help reduce the number of disastrous online dating situations, USA Today reported, many online dating websites, such as Grouper, are attempting to get people off the computer and out to meet their potential romantic partner sooner rather than later.

The strong presence of movies and TV shows such as the aforementioned ones in the media show that online dating is a much discussed topic that people have vastly different views on. I chose this topic to shed light on the dynamics and possible dangers and communication disruptions online dating poses because so many people are affected by it. I believe it is important for people to inform themselves about the communication and privacy risks of online dating before participating in it.

 

A significant aspect that online dating affects is self-disclosure, which Julia T. Wood describes as “the revelation of personal information about ourselves that others are unlikely to discover in other ways” on pp. 199 of Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. In other words, self-disclosure is directly telling a person something about yourself. In a joint Rutgers University and Michigan State University study titled “First Comes Love, then Comes Google: An Investigation of Uncertainty Reduction Strategies and Self-disclosure in Online Dating,” the authors concluded from their survey that people limit self-disclosure while online dating due to concerns about personal security (fear of  receiving threatening messages), misrepresentation (fear that the person is vastly different from what their profile indicates) and recognition (fear that friends and family will find their profiles and judge them for online dating).

The study found that strategies such as Googling possible partners, comparing profile information to their pictures and emailing follow-up questions could be effective in feeling more comfortable with sharing information and developing the relationship. If someone knows legitimate information about their potential romantic partner, such as their actual geographical location, they are more likely to feel comfortable with them and self-disclose about their lives.

Strategies such as this could help build trust, which Wood defines on pp. 199 as “believing in another’s reliability (that he or she will do as promised) and emotionally relying on one another to look out for our welfare and our relationship” between two online strangers. Placing one’s trust in a romantic partner means knowing you can count on them to be there for you physically and emotionally. For example, if one tells their romantic partner a secret, one trusts that the other person cares about the quality of the relationship enough to not disclose this information to someone else.

Another important aspect of relationships to focus on if online dating is intimacy, or what Wood describes on pp. 279 as “feelings of closeness, connection, and tenderness” within a relationship. If one is intimate with another person, they feel they know quite a bit about their life and feelings, have a great deal in common with the other person, and are affectionate with the person in some way. It is essential to somehow establish this in an online relationship in order for it to survive beyond a computer screen.

While online dating is romantic, it is also essential to have what Wood calls a stabilized friendship on pp. 260. This kind of friendship is a foundation for a romantic relationship because it involves trust and open communication, which bring the two people closer together. This kind of foundation assures that the two people in the relationship start strong despite the communication barriers online dating can present.

Investments, which Wood describes as on pp. 198 as “what we put into relationships that we could not retrieve if the relationship were to end,” are important in online relationships because it takes energy and effort to transfer a romantic relationship from the Internet to real life and maintain the relationship overall. However, situations such as Schulman’s in Catfish should warn online daters to be more informed about a relationship before investing too much.

Finally, framing rules, which Wood says “define the emotional meaning of situations” on pp. 176, are important in online relationships because the two people need to be able to decide what certain circumstances in their relationship mean in order to define the relationship and be on the same page.

 

eHarmony is a popular online dating website that started taking U.S. members in 2000. Screenshot by author Rebecca Lundberg

Overall, my research on online dating and interpersonal communication has helped me realize how complex online dating can be, especially concerning privacy and relationship development. I have seen how it can be disastrous, such as when one or both people are not who they claim to be, and how it can be successful when the two partners are open with each other and go on to develop the relationship in person.

I hope my readers now understand that online dating is a very complex process that involves a great deal of time, effort and research. One should know a great deal about who they are speaking and interacting with online before investing too much in the relationship. Once one is in an online relationship, they should take the time to personally meet the other person and develop the relationship. Hopefully, online daters, prospective online daters or even people who are simply acquainted with online daters will either go into an online relationship knowing it takes a great deal of awareness and effort or inform their friends of the risks and challenges of building these types of relationships.

 

References

Gibbs, Jennifer L., Ellison,  Nicole B., & and Lai, Chih-Hui. First comes love, then comes Google: An investigation of uncertainty reduction strategies and self-disclosure in online dating. Communication Research, 38(70), 15-16. doi: 10.1177/0093650210377091

 

Wood, Julia T. (2010). Interpersonal communication: Personal encounters. Boston: Wadsworth.

 

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Out with the old and in with the new…?

While an older couple may enjoy the predictability of going to the same dinner every week for date night, they may also want to expand their horizons and go on a whole new adventure. This could be why many older couples rent RVs and travel the country together in order to have more spontaneity in their relationship. This can even be the case with younger couples, who may want to explore who they are individually while still remaining a couple. Overall, people generally desire both routine and change in their romantic relationships and relationships overall.

 

The longing for both the usual routine and spontaneity within relationships has been common among individuals since essentially the beginning of time. Press sources such as The Huffington Post have bloggers that even offer tips to “spice things up” with romantic partners.

Photo by Joe Lanman

In addition to romantic relationships, friends may tire of their usual routine or office workers may want to face new challenges within their jobs. However, these same people may want this routine more than change because they grow used to their everyday tasks and wish to fulfill their responsibilities properly.

 

The wish for novelty and predictability in relationships is part of relational dialectics, or “opposing forces, or tensions, that are normal in relationships” (Wood 200). Novelty is a new aspect to a relationship, as many believe that “without some element of surprise, the relationship may become boring and emotionally dead.” Predictability is a common pattern in a relationship.

 

It is important to realize that relationships need both familiar aspects and new elements to develop and remain strong. Readers hopefully see that a balance of these two things is essential to making relationships healthy.

 

Works Cited

Wood, J. (2010). Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters. (6 ed.). Boston:

Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

 

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He said, she said

Countless magazines, books, television programs, movies, and pamphlets are dedicated to the fact that many men and women seem to have different ways of communicating. It is no secret that this miscommunication between men and women in romantic relationships is known to cause confusion and conflict. While this is not the case for all men and women, it has been a common topic of discussion among people since the beginning of the world as we know it. As reported by Psychology Today, a common belief is that women tend to bury their anger and avoid confrontation while men are expected to express their anger more openly and aggressively. These major differences in conflict styles greatly contribute to lack of understanding between men and women regarding certain topics.

The video below illustrates that men and women generally have different expectations of communication and language.

Video courtesy of YouTube user kiptron.

Miscommunication between men and women even affects people who are not directly associated in such a relationship because most people have seen an example of this in their lives. The fact that gender specific magazines often have headlines such as “How to Understand Men” or “What Women Really Mean” on their covers shows that male-female relationships are typically confusing for those involved in one. While relationships are, of course, not limited to male-female, these relationships are most often portrayed and acknowledged in mainstream media.

The social perception of male-female relationships is important because society often places certain expectations on males and females that cause them to act and react in particular ways. Studies suggest that separation between boys and girls as early as the playground days most likely cause the development of these reactions and conflict between men and women. Men and women who feel equal when compared to each other are less likely to have these qualities that lead to conflict. I feel this is interesting because it shows being a woman does not necessarily mean I have to deal with conflict in my relationships with men in a specific, expected way or automatically cause conflict because of my gender.

Men and women are often part of different speech communities; a speech community is a community in which individuals have standards for how they speak to each other and what reason this stands for (Wood 109). For example, young girls often begin playing games like house, which teach them to be gentle and discuss how the game should be played. Boys, however, are expected to play competitive games such as football or other action-packed games that lead to a more aggressive bargaining style (Wood 110). These different play styles are instilled in boys and girls early on and can lead to how they work through conflict as adults; therefore, these differences create and cause miscommunication between male and female speech communities.

Understanding the creation of separate gender speech communities and the conflict they can create is important to me personally because I now see male-female interaction as something that does not necessarily have to follow society’s conflict style standards. If anything can be taken from my discussion of this particular subject, I hope readers see that being a woman does not mean you have to react a certain way, nor does being male mean this. While interpersonal communication cannot occur without at least occasional conflict, certain stypes of conflict styles do not to be used simply because of general. People can pay attention to how they deal with conflict and decide if they are reacting how they are because they are of a certain gender or because they truly feel a particular way.

 

References

Wood, J. (2010). Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters. (6 ed.). Boston:

Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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About Becca

Oh hey! My name is Rebecca Lundberg, but everyone who knows me calls me Becca. I grew up in the middle of nowhere but have lived in the fabulous town of FarmVegas for the past two years.  I am a junior communication studies major with a concentration in mass media and a minor in English. I am involved in The Rotunda campus newspaper, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, DASH and Big Siblings. I love reading, shopping and kayaking, in that order.

When it comes to communication, I wish I always had 30 seconds to come up with a socially acceptable response. Yep, I’m that awkward. But in all seriousness I love every form of communication, from speaking to writing. I worked in retail this summer and enjoyed interacting with customers and co-workers and refining my communication skills. I also interned at a local magazine and learned more about my favorite form of communication, print journalism. I am always open to learning more about communication and am looking forward to utilizing what I learn in this class in the future.

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Find Your Own Niche

What is your niche? If you don’t have an idea now, the Internet’s wide access to specialized web pages can help you find that out. General news stories appeal to the traditional print newspaper audience, but the web opens up opportunities for people to read exactly what they are looking for. Whether your niche is baking or cars or health or something completely different, the Internet’s new niche network probably has something for you.

While I enjoy reading a print copy of a newspaper, I also find pleasure in reading “niche” web pages or blogs. These sites help me discover information about a specific subject I would not find out elsewhere, and these sites can appeal to others with specific interests as well. In the words of Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics: Twelve News Trends that will Shape the News You Get, “What we want more of is what we’re interested in, but which the next guy may find boring” (Doctor 140).

WSJ Magazine is the Wall Street Journal's niche magazine which focuses primarily on fashion and is located at http://online.wsj.com/public/page/magazine-index.

Most people have specific interests, but a print newspaper doesn’t exactly have space to fit every single interest every person has ever had. However, the Internet does, and if you want to read about the specifics of salsa dancing or scuba diving, niche sites allow you to do this. More and more publications are branching out from their home websites and creating more specific web pages that are connected to their name. USA Today is one publication that has taken this route with both a music page and Twitter.

USA Today Music is USA Today's niche Twitter site for music and can be found at twitter.com/#!/usatodaymusic.

With the rising popularity of applications (or apps), The Sacramento Bee reports that some companies are making niche app stores to cater to people who want to buy specific apps and don’t want to have to search for hours in a general app store. Whether you are looking for a specific website, blog or app store, niche outlets allow readers and customers to find more information on subjects they care about. As Doctor said, “The Web is tailor-made to easily gather a lot of information about any subject no matter how narrow” (Doctor 141). People can constantly be updated and gather new insight on their interests with nice sites.

The Symbolic Convergence Theory explains why so many people gravitate toward niche websites. The theory, originally proposed by Ernest Bormann, says groups with common fantasies or goals become a unified group through these common objectives. The creators of niche websites and the website readers share the interest and, whether they are aware of this or not, form a group through these interests and make these sites stable because of this. For example, Doctor said motherhood websites like MomsLikeMe.com help mothers connect with each other and keep informed about their niche (Doctor 146-147). Specialized websites like these portray the Symbolic Convergence Theory through the common interest these mothers have.

Niche websites show me that general news stories are not satisfactory enough for modern readers; new technology allows them to find their niche and connect with others through these interests. It is important to see that niche blogs are part of the new news world- niche blogs are more expansive and more effective as a result of this, just as the modern news world is with Internet technology. Instead of appealing to everyone, sites can afford to target a specific audience in order to truly connect with individuals and help them find their niche.

 

Additional references

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New

York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

 

All photo credits to author.

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This isn’t your normal newspaper and cup of joe routine

Growing up, I walked downstairs in the morning to see my dad reading the Wall Street Journal with his daily cup of coffee. These days, I walk to my early classes and see dozens of students with a smartphone in one hand and a to-go cup of coffee in the other. Many people seem to be in a hurry in this modern age, and the media has adjusted to their  new needs. According to the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2012 report, 23 percent of adults in the United States read news on two or more digital electronic devices. Whether these devices are computers, smartphones or tablets, it is clear the traditional newspaper delivery system is no longer dominant in many Americans’ lives.

More and more people are turning to online news.

As a student journalist, I must reluctantly accept the fact that print newspapers are now second to online news sites and applications, which will help me (and hopefully others) adjust to and succeed in the new media age. In Ken Doctor’s book Newsonomics: Twelve News Trends That Will Shape the News You Get, a chapter entitled “The Old News World is Gone- Get Over It” basically tells readers that the Internet has changed how people consume news, and identifies that many news companies did not adjust to this, assumed readers would simply continue reading print, and then suffered or even failed as a result. According to Doctor, “Self-deception kept publishers from moving quickly enough to minimize the damage of great technological change” (Doctor 77). After newspapers caved and started supplying their content online for free, they began losing money. As Businessweek pointed out, companies charging readers does not always work either because readers do not like the idea of paying for something they have read for free for so long.

USA Today mentioned how many newspapers were dying in an article three years ago, and while this may be true, news itself is only growing. In the words of Doctor, the revolution of newspapers going online is “not a rejection of newspaper content” (Doctor 79). It is important to realize while print may not be thriving and the newspaper world is different now that so many people read news online or through news applications (e.g., Pulse), the Internet allows more stories to be read at a faster space, connection people from around the world in an instant through common stories.

Pulse is a smartphone application which provides news from multiple sources.

The global village concept, which Marshall McLuhan developed, says technology connects people from around the globe in an instant; therefore, technology wipes out any sense of distance or time. This concept is often applied to the Internet because people can connect so quickly that they see a story and are automatically brought together will millions of other people, whether they are aware of it or not. The traditional newspaper does not have this same effect because people cannot access it instantly nor can they comment on stories or share them through social media with a print newspaper. For example, when a natural disaster occurs in another country, people from the United States see the news story online via multiple electronic devices and can receive instant updates moment by moment about the story. Social media applications can promote a cause to help the country, usually causing the U.S. citizens to want to get involved. This technology causes people to feel connected to a story they are miles away from.

Many people rally for print media and against online media because they value the old-fashioned lifestyle print represents. While I personally prefer print newspapers and still read them regularly, I do also value the up-to-date articles and worldly connection the Internet brings when it comes to news. While many may be set against online news, it brings readers updated and interactive stories that print cannot provide. Even if one prefers print, they can appreciate and even embrace online news as well because it truly does bring more links and information quickly, as well as connections between people. I look at media differently because of online news- news is changing, but more importantly, it is growing.

 

Additional References

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: Twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York, NY: St. Martin’s

Press.

 

All photo credits to author.

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The Truth About Columbine and the Media

When a news story is so tragic it becomes national news, if an explanation for the horrific situation is not clear right away, people search for one. These people are those directly affected by the tragedy, the media and the average American thousands of miles away from the story. The Columbine High School massacre was and still is this kind of news story. Columbine seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting rampage and left 13 people dead, taking their own lives soon after. They must have been bullied or gothic or played too many video games, said the media. They must have snapped after years of built-up tension, added the public. No one — not the media, not the public, not even some of the boys’ classmates — suspected the truth. The media didn’t know that the teen killers had actually been fairly popular and intelligent (yet psychopathic and depressed) boys who had racked up a year’s worth of planning to end the lives of anyone they could find.

Columbine sparked rumors about how Eric and Dylan must have been bullied to go on such a rampage, their supposed involvement in the “Trench Coat Mafia,” the dead students being targeted due to ethnicity and religion… the list goes on. These rumors caused a media frenzy, inspiring schools to start more anti-bullying programs, citing gothic or outcast teens as the kids to keep an eye on and contributing to studies making correlations between video games and violence. The media spread the information they thought was true, but most of the rumors were myths. Years after the tragedy, books like Dave Cullen’s Columbine and articles from various media publications revealed that Eric was an arrogant psychopath who wanted to kill to rid the world of people he described as “stupid and weak organisms” (Cullen 184) and Dylan was depressed and suicidal and saw joining Eric in the shooting as an escape from his life.

Earlier reports had some of the boys’ classmates on record as saying the boys were part of the bullied, lonely Trench Coat Mafia group (when Eric, in fact, was a well-liked boy who bullied and ostracized others, and Dylan was his depressed but participating sidekick). Other classmates said students who were African-American or religious were targeted, but USA Today, as the boys’ journals and FBI reports revealed, said the boys actually aimed to kill everyone they could; they originally planned to bomb the school but resorted to gunfire when the bombs did not go off.

The fact these myths circulated for so long shows how the media can generate an idea and the public will simply accept it and take action, even if there is no concrete proof. These myths caught my interest because they show how myths and stereotypes can be misconstrued as true in the media; therefore, misleading the public. But I believe everyone has the right to know the truth about what goes on in the world.

The Columbine massacre took place in 1999, but it is such a shocking and complex story that the public still follows it closely. Columbine is what media literacy experts call a media event. In order to be identified as a media event, the public must follow this event closely via the media and feel like they are a part of it. A media event makes history, requires large amounts of people to come together to help, has media create myths about what occurred and has a hero (or heroes) that contributes to an overall meaning. The public has cited Columbine as one of the greatest American tragedies for years and continues to look for any new information revealed about the shooting. After the massacre, many schools increased security and enforced stricter weapon policies, coming together in an attempt to prevent more events like this. The aforementioned myths spread until about 2005 when police records proved many of them untrue, and there were many heroes, from the police officers to the schools that made security stricter to the police who eventually brought more information to light.

Investigating Columbine helped me see how the media can take misleading ideas and spread them so quickly that the whole country panics. While bullying can contribute to victims resorting to violent circumstances, Eric and Dylan were the bullies for most of their teen years and killed because of extreme psychological problems. While the media is aware of this now, it is important for people to recognize how the media can let an issue get out of hand with misleading information. While I have high respect for the media, it can perpetuate myths quickly and I will investigate for myself before automatically believing what sources tell me. I hope any readers see this as an opportunity to truly look into an issue before trusting common myths and stereotypes spread by each other and the media.

Additional References

Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. New York, NY: Twelve.

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Advergaming is Not All Fun and Games

Food companies (e.g., General Mills, Nabisco and McDonald’s) have recently developed a new advertising technique called “advergaming,” food brand-sponsored game websites which aim to coerce children into buying unhealthy food. Children often do not realize they are being advertised to on these sites, even if the website posts a disclaimer. Advergaming is a deceitful way in which food companies lead children to buy their brand through entertaining games, preying on the fact that it is difficult for kids to differentiate between games and advertising.

I believe advergaming is an essential topic of study because these games pose as supposedly harmless entertainment that convinces children to consume fattening food. One study concluded that 85 percent of the food brand websites they viewed were marketed to children, and 73 percent of these sites hosted advergames. An example of a clever advergaming technique is the Kellogg’s Apple Jacks cereal commercial that shows children a scenario they can help solve if they play advergame on the company’s website. This kind of ad immerses children in the product even after the commercial has aired. The general public should be aware of this so action can be taken to protect children from these advertising measures.

According to the New York Times, while companies may label their games as advertising, this rarely aids children in realizing a product is targeted toward them.

This screen shot of the Lucky Charm website claims it is a safe site for children.

In fact, Communication Currents concluded that most children are not media literate enough to recognize the persuasive intent in these advergames; the aforementioned Times article reported that children think the companies create the games to simply inform or entertain them.

Another Times article voiced concerns that children whose guardians work low-income jobs with long hours are more likely to become victims of this advertising, resulting in child weight gain and unhealthy lifestyles. The article mentions that not only these children, but others who play advergames as well, make advertising a part of their daily routine by playing these games. The general public seems to have gained a new awareness of the negative effects of advergaming on children as well due to parental complaints about companies’ easy access to children through advergaming.

A major persuasive technique advergaming advertisers use is association. Association is basically when advertisements cause consumers to link a product to a particular feeling or lifestyle. Children often associate the enjoyable experience they have while playing an advergame to the product itself. The fun game causes them to think the product will bring them entertainment as well. This association of entertainment with a product convinces children to buy the product, which can eventually lead to obesity in these children due to consumption of fattening food.

This research transforms my views on advertising marketed toward children because I now see a seemingly innocent game is actually an advertising ploy. This shows how marketers use many forms of advertising to reach children. It is essential for readers to recognize that advergames can be harmful to children and contribute to the overall obesity epidemic. While most children are not media literate, aware adults can help them recognize persuasive intent and stray from deceitful ads.

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M&M’s Says ‘It’s That Kind of Party’ at the Super Bowl

The M&M’s “It’s That Kind of Party” advertisement begins as a brown and bespectacled female M&M (Ms. Brown) is tells a story to two women at a sophisticated cocktail party. When a male party guest laughs in Ms. Brown’s direction, one of the other women says, “He thinks you’re naked.” Ms. Brown declares that her shell is brown and only a fool would think her milk chocolate was showing. The man turns away, embarrassed, as a red M&M walks into the room, looks at Ms. Brown and declares, “So it’s that kind of party!” He then proceeds to take off his red shell and dance to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” eliciting stares from the stiff party guests. The ad ends with the words “Not your average chocolate.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbbLCvUtHGo&feature=g-all-u&context=G208b48cFAAAAAAAATAA

Mars, Inc. created the advertisement for an audience familiar with modern pop culture, most likely the teen to middle-aged male and female crowd. The M&M’s commercial presented a calm, sophisticated atmosphere and interrupted it with an odd and humorous moment, implying that M&M’s are a necessary ingredient for the audience to be unique and fun.

An essential piece of subtext is that the sophisticated, tight-knit atmosphere at the cocktail party implies that M&M’s and people who associate with them are special and exquisite. Mrs. Brown was created by Mars, Inc. to represent a witty, intellectual woman, which is supported by Ms. Brown’s glasses and glamorous air. The fact that the red male M&M dances wildly to a modern song suggests that M&M’s are fun, bold, unique, sexy and not average.

The commercial uses the basic persuasive technique of association (page 7). The ad aims to link M&M’s with fun and even sexiness when the red M&M takes off his shell and dances to “Sexy and I Know It.” In general, the teen to middle-aged demographic desires a life that is fun while maintaining a sexy appearance. According to University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor of Communication Sut Jhally, “In the image-system as a whole, happiness lies at the end of a purchase.” While the advertisement does not directly say consumers will have “the good life” by eating M&M’s, it is implied that M&M’s are necessary for this to happen because the M&M’s are the elements that bring these factors into the room.

Another persuasive technique the ad uses is humor (page 8). The red M&M believes that a scandalous party is taking place and dances inappropriately to a popular song, causing every party guest’s jaw to drop. It is a silly, feel-good commercial and the company wants consumers to associate those feelings with their product. Upon doing so, consumers may invest in M&M’s to experience those feelings again.

A positive message of the commercial is that letting go of one’s inhibitions (i.e., dancing like the red M&M) can make life less stiff and more fun. A negative message is that M&M’s are necessary for individuality and entertainment. The ad empowers women by showing an intellectual female M&M but does not empower men because it portrays them as immature (the laughing man) or wild (the red M&M). Caucasians and African-Americans are present in the ad, but no other races are represented.

The story not told in this ad is that M&M’s do not automatically make life more exciting or less average. The ad also leaves out the fact that M&M’s are a fattening candy that can lead to obesity instead of an exciting, unique and sexy life like the commercial implies.

The advertisement confirms my view that Super Bowl ads typically generate more fans when they are funny, memorable and entertaining. It is important to realize that humorous ads are meant to entertain viewers because companies hope consumers associate these good feelings with their product and buy the product as a result. While funny commercials should be enjoyed by viewers, it is essential to realize that the product itself does not necessarily bring good feelings.

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About Me

 

Hi! My name is Rebecca Lundberg, but everyone who knows me calls me Becca. I grew up in a small (a.k.a., unknown) town called New Kent located halfway in between Richmond and Williamsburg, so I usually tell people I am from whichever city sounds more exciting to me that day. I am now a sophomore communications major at Longwood University and am lead copy editor for The Rotunda campus newspaper. I am involved in Chi Alpha, a campus ministry, and DASH, a community service organization, as well. I also regularly spill my coffee on any possible surface and trip over any and all objects in my way. You could say it’s all part of my charm.

A media culture artifact that I constantly used when I was a child was my Game Boy. My favorite game was Super Mario Brothers, and I always wanted to beat just one more level. I was not alone; everyone my age, boys and girls alike, either had a Game Boy or wanted one. Despite the fact that the Game Boy was a handheld device, my parents limited the time I could play with it. Game Boys were so popular that the administration banned them from school grounds, instructing teachers to take them away if students brought them to class. But after school, my friends and I always played them together. It seems like the Game Boy revolution almost foreshadowed my generation’s preoccupation with smart phones because the phones are now the new must have technology.

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