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The Spectre of ‘Ghosting’ and the Sequential Organization of Post-match Tinder Chat Conversations

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Analysing Digital Interaction

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Discursive Psychology ((PSDP))

Abstract

In this chapter, I have used a conversation analysis (hereafter CA)-inspired approach to analyse the Tinder chat conversations of a sample of users in Paris. It shows how such conversations display a distinctive sequential organization in which participants: (a) design turns as a combination of backward-looking interactional moves (recognizably responsive to parts of previous messages) and forward-looking ones (often questions, and almost always moves designed as first pair parts of an adjacent sequence); (b) orient towards providing significant elaborations of their moves, made noticeable by the way they seem to run against the ‘maxim of quantity’; (c) often rely on the ‘one question after another’ device, in which an open question is immediately repaired or reformulated (in the same message or in the next one) into a Y/N question. Participants are accountable for not using such resources systematically. Since a recognizable function of such resources is to reinforce the way in which successive turns project an answer, their use displays a concern that the conversation might stop, and the commitment of their users to keeping the conversation going. Tinder chat conversations thus seem haunted from the inside by the possibility of interactional desertion or ‘ghosting’.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This differs from the way adjacent pairs may work in talk-in-interaction in two respects. First, the links between adjacency pairs, turn-taking and the emergent character of talk as unfolding, are severed in this type of electronic, message-based communication. Second, there is a loosening of the way participants orient towards ‘adjacency’ and ‘nextness’. With chats, a recognizable second pair part is expected in the next contribution, but not necessarily in the next message, or in first position in the next message.

  2. 2.

    The reasons for which these conversations were archived were highly variable, so that a classification would be difficult). Some had just been left there (also, not all users were aware they could archive some chat conversation), some were kept for their interest.

  3. 3.

    There is very little interweaving of messages, such that such an alternation is preserved even with multi- message turns. This may be due to the pace of the messages, multi-message turns are usually done within a minute, while answers usually come minutes or tens of minutes later.

  4. 4.

    Studies of face-to-face interactions have shown that in encounters between strangers, first topic initiation was to be found in the particularities of the mutually available context (Maynard & Zimmerman, 1984). In online dating, online profiles constitute the main source of mutually available context .

  5. 5.

    This is occasionally topicalized in these conversations and confirmed in interviews.

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Correspondence to Christian Licoppe .

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Licoppe, C. (2021). The Spectre of ‘Ghosting’ and the Sequential Organization of Post-match Tinder Chat Conversations. In: Meredith, J., Giles, D., Stommel, W. (eds) Analysing Digital Interaction. Palgrave Studies in Discursive Psychology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64922-7_8

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