Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

5-8-2024 9:00 AM

End Date

5-8-2024 11:00 AM

Subjects

Anthropology, Gender

Advisor

Michele Gamburd

Student Level

Masters

Abstract

This presentation is based on digital ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2023 within Queer subcommunities on the social media sites Reddit and Twitter (now known as X) and data collected from interviews with Queer rural youth members of these communities. The data reveal that social media use directly influences the lives and actions of Queer rural youth, who use the space to build social connections, shape their personal identities, and seek advice pertaining to their in-person lives and decisions. By using these spaces, Queer rural youth build both bonding and bridging social capital, learn to subvert restrictions to their Internet access, and express their identity by conforming to the norms of the broader Queer community. In particular, many Queer rural youth consume influencer-suggested media, change their behavior, and even migrate to coastal urban centers in order to fulfill their perceived ideal of Queer life. Although the Internet serves as a haven for many youth, it exposes them to dangers as well, many of which will shift and change with future technological advancements in AI. This research enhances anthropological understanding of the significance of virtual spaces in contemporary society and their potential to both empower and endanger minority communities.

Creative Commons License or Rights Statement

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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May 8th, 9:00 AM May 8th, 11:00 AM

Queer Rural Youth Online: A Digital Ethnography

This presentation is based on digital ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2023 within Queer subcommunities on the social media sites Reddit and Twitter (now known as X) and data collected from interviews with Queer rural youth members of these communities. The data reveal that social media use directly influences the lives and actions of Queer rural youth, who use the space to build social connections, shape their personal identities, and seek advice pertaining to their in-person lives and decisions. By using these spaces, Queer rural youth build both bonding and bridging social capital, learn to subvert restrictions to their Internet access, and express their identity by conforming to the norms of the broader Queer community. In particular, many Queer rural youth consume influencer-suggested media, change their behavior, and even migrate to coastal urban centers in order to fulfill their perceived ideal of Queer life. Although the Internet serves as a haven for many youth, it exposes them to dangers as well, many of which will shift and change with future technological advancements in AI. This research enhances anthropological understanding of the significance of virtual spaces in contemporary society and their potential to both empower and endanger minority communities.