Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Erika Polson, Ph.D.
Geo-social networking apps, Men who have sex with men, Social media, Dating apps
Location-based applications (geo-social applications) gained popularity in 2010, for individuals to meet others around them with similar interests. These applications have become extremely popular within the MSM community (men who have sex with men) but have had limited success for other communities. Geo-social networking apps offer a unique opportunity for individuals to present their identities in a limited manner in order to meet other users. This research looks at how such identities are experienced, performed, and assembled digitally and why. Using a qualitative approach, I conducted 10 in-depth interviews with users of the geo-social networking application, Grindr, regarding how they presented and experienced their identities in the application. These interviews yielded insight on the diverse usages of the application, how online identities are assembled and presented (mainly through presentation of photos), and how challenges in doing so are mitigated. When it came to presenting their “best selves”, which every user strived to do, the users utilized ‘self-branding’ techniques to choose the pieces of their identities that fit what the community valued the most (which echoes what offline MSM communities value). By branding themselves, users presented more appealing profiles, which made the community seem competitive. This competitive mentality influenced a sense of the users feeling commodified, while at times receiving negative feedback from others when they did not fit the community’s ‘norm’. These results indicate there is a negative paradox within the application, where the goal of connecting with people is overshadowed with the users feeling more separated from making meaningful connections.
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Received from ProQuest
Lindsey, Levi, "We Can Lie About How We Met: MSM Identity on Geo-Social Networking Applications" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 371.