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Embodied versus Disembodied Information: How Online Artifacts Influence Offline Interpersonal Interactions

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


This article examines how the sheer volume of personal information recorded and searchable online (online artifacts) has transformed the situated activity system central to Goffman's dramaturgical theories. In‐depth interviews reveal that individuals believe disembodied information based on online artifacts is a more accurate representation of others than embodied information from spatially and temporally bounded face‐to‐face (FTF) processes because they represent how others have behaved over time and are attested by their online contacts. However, the n‐adic structure of online interaction leads to mismatched expectations about whether disembodied information is taken into account during FTF encounters, and consequently can result in embarrassment.