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Article Newspaper/Magazine

“on my way”: Deceptive Texting and Interpersonal Awareness Narratives


Managing one’s availability for interaction with others is an increasingly complex act, involving multiple media and the sharing of many types of information. In this paper we draw on a field study of 183 SMS users to introduce the idea of the “interpersonal awareness narrative” — the coherent, plausible and sometimes deceptive stories that people tell each other about their availability and activities. We examine participants’ use of deception in these accounts, and focus in particular on “butler lies,” those lies told to enter or exit conversations or to arrange other interactions. We argue that participants use this type of deception in SMS strategically, drawing on the inherent ambiguities of SMS while maintaining plausible narratives.

J. Birnholtz
J. Guillory
J.T. Hancock
N.N. Bazarova
Proceedings of the ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010), 1-4. [Acceptance rate: 20%]
Publication Date
February 10, 2010