The Department of Communication Studies in the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin hosted a lecture by Jeremy Birnholtz titled, "Butler Lies: Media, Deception and Availability Management in Everyday Life" on Feb. 28, 2013.

Birnholtz, an assistant professor at Northwestern University, discussed a series of research studies that look at how individuals use new media such as texting, IM and email to manage their availability.

The studies highlight how people use media strategically and often, deceptively, to explain and coordinate their behavior. Other topics covered include availability management by drawing on the technical features of media, the social norms of media usage, and the willingness of others to accept deception.

New communication media such as email and instant messaging (IM) allows for constant interaction with others. While this has clear benefits, studies indicate many people also report feeling overloaded and regularly take active steps to manage their availability for interaction. Methods include delaying response to messages, limiting attention to all incoming communications, or exiting conversations prematurely.

According to Birnholtz, these tactics may lead to perceptions of rudeness or disinterest in a relationship. For Birnholtz’s full lecture, visit

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