Sensual Social Media Identities: Mobile Dating App Presentations and Attributions Among Young Adults in Manila, Philippines


Communication technologies, through mobile dating apps, have reshaped romantic intimacies. The apps have enabled meaningful interactions that led to relational romantic and sexual relationships. In order for interactions to be created, dating app users curate themselves in based on certain desires and needs. Goffman (1959) claimed that it is the packaging of oneself in a given social situation. The presented selves also become sources of narratives of success and failures in dating. These attributions are based on some external and internal factors (Weiner, 1985). This paper explored the performance of the online "face" in mobile dating applications by asking these questions: How do young adults self-present in mobile dating apps and how do such presentations inform their narratives of success and failures in the use of the mobile dating apps? The study used a descriptive-interpretivist case study communication research design. The approach was constructivist. The researchers looked for and interviewed volunteer informants who were active users of Tinder. Inductive thematic analysis was used to examine the data. Results showed that young adults see the dating apps as platforms for their self-presentations through the following tactical routes: displaying the ideal self, showing an active lifestyle, self-censoring oneself, and negotiating online spaces through their altered selves. The use of the self-presentation strategies made them feel successful daters in the mobile apps. They believed that their successes were due to personal factors while, for some, their failures were mainly due to external events and situations.

Author Information
Jonalou Labor, University of the Philippines, Philippines

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2020
Stream: Social Media and Communication Technology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon