Text Clan: Culture of SMS of the Filipino Gay

Text Clan

Text Clan

Text Clan: Culture of SMS of the Filipino Gay

Much of the usage and maximization of the features of SMS(texting) has been derived from the usage of the internet. Parallel to the chat groups of instant messaging platforms on the internet, like yahoo chat rooms on which users join a group wherein members sharing a particular interest, SMS or texting also have these so- called text clans. As previously mentioned that subscribers uses SMS for gaining and nurturing friendships (and boyfriends) and enrichment of social relationships (Harper, et al (2005), members usually join text clans to find a date.

There are numerous Text clans in the country, there is no study as to how many clans do we have and there is no document discussing this. Some existing clans to name a few are FHM (Fabulous Hot Men), DOSE, Maxim, Black Label Society.

Just like Chat rooms in the internet, Text clan is a group of text- mates who shares the same interest. There are also set of officers, a founder and/or sometimes with a co-founder, president, secretary, moderator of messages who ensures that members abide to the rules and regulations. Members share thoughts, announcements, forward quotes or send any message within the rules; each message must be sent to all the members which they call ―GM or General Message, majority of the messages, questions and polls are sexual in nature .Text clans are usually of Gay nature, there is no record of any text clan of any interest other than having gay members or founders for gay people.

Each Text clan has different rules in terms of processing the application. For one to be a member, an applicant should complete an application sent to him though text and he must resend back the filled out form to the person processing the application. If a person has been approved for membership, his number would be announced to the whole members through text message and each member has to welcome him.

Members ask for their Friendster accounts (normally), although others may ask for Facebook account or any social networking site containing the member‘s picture for them to view and to find out if the person is attractive. Pictures on the profile are the only basis they would have for whatever purpose they may have in mind- whether it will be for a date, or for other purposes.

Clan members normally do have a GEB (Grand Eye Ball). Eye ball is a term for ―meeting up‖; grand eye ball is the term for meeting up of the whole members of the group, this is usually being held in a bar, disco, coffee shops, in a house (as a house party) or any venue the officers or members would agree. This is the event wherein they can meet the members in person.

This has been made possible due to though competition among networks, service providers offer unlimited text service for a fixed price to attract more subscribers. This enables users to send multiple messages and without considering the number of messages they can send.

Looking closely on this homosexual movement, gays find a way to be represented in the new media and to maximize the potentials of this medium. This movement has crossed the boundary of the usual dating and searching for a partner. Habermas (2006) defines the public sphere as the sphere of private people who join together to form a “public.”

Looking at text clans in Habermas‘ view of the public sphere, of which it is a development out of the private institution of the family, and from what he coins the “literary public sphere”, where discussion of art and literature became possible for the first time. On this note, the subscriber – a consumer of the content of messages sent to the group and at the same time a producer- can be called a prosumer. Members, through polls exchange ideas whether on sexual content, on current events, pop culture, music and others. This is a good development since telecommunication companies no longer have the control of the content of messages a subscribers may receive, except for the privacy issue, which is no longer a part of the thesis.

Text clans also serve as a substitute for diary since members can send messages to everyone about how they feel, what they are currently doing, what happened to them or anything they can post as long as it is within the rules and regulations of the clan, as long as the member does not use any derogatory word or statements do not conflict with other members.

Furthermore, it creates a norm, a subculture per se, amongst homosexual, as well as an avenue for their desire. The only regulation being done is from the officers implementing the rule on the foundation that it will be for every member‘s common good.

On the contrary, since members of these text clans do not meet each other face to face, there is a big possibility of changing or fluid identities. One can play a role depending on the situation and may play another role on a given stimulus. An individual has multiple ―social identities. Different social contexts may trigger an individual to think, feel and act on basis of his personal, family or national ―level of self‖ (Turner et al, 1987). On this note, one cannot be assured of somebody else‘s authenticity as they are just communicating on a non face to face communication.

References:

Habermas, J. (2006). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article. In D. Kellner & M. Durham (Eds.), Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks (pp. 73- 78). UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Part 6 Online Gay Social Networking Sites: Effects and Marginalization

Limitations of the Study

Results are somehow subject to limitation of the number of respondents available for
interview. The manner of interview can also be pointed as it was conducted in
an informal way. Lack of formal validation of the accuracy summarizing the
respondents’ answers can also be a point for further study.

Conclusion and Recommendations

With the growing number of members joining the social networking sites, it is indeed a normal phenomenon that businesses may tend to maximize the opportunity for advertisements in social networking sites. Business establishments may capitalize on the vanity and marginalization created by the users. We can generate studies from these effects, even open up to possibilities of
development for new theories. Further studies may focus on bigger sampling and
methods to conduct this study.

References

Boyd, D. (April 24, 2004). Friendster and Publicly Articulated Social Networking.
Retrieved July 27, 2008, from Communications 200 Database.

Dawley, H. (March 27, 2007). Retrieved
July 27, 2008, from http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman/publish/article_11038.asp.

QuantCast (2007b) “Profile for MySpace.com”, Quantcast, Retrieved July 26, 2008, from http://www.quantcast.com/myspace.com.

Rios, J. R. (2007). The World For Men. Icon, 2, 68 – 73.

Part 5 Online Gay Social Networking Sites: Effects and Marginalization

Observations

Majority of the users contains pictures of them being half naked, some wearing only their underwear, and some taking the pose of what they consider as artistic nude. Having these trend leads to another issue that users tend to create stereotypes, the trend of “No chubs and effeme policy”. Most of the users with a gym-fit body usually has a clause on their profile “no chubs and effemes please”. “Chubs” is a term for an abbreviated word “chubby”, and effeme is the term for effeminate gay. This means that the user with such clause only prefers to date a user with a well fit body.

pics of a downelink member

pics of a downelink member

Some users who don’t have the “gym-fit body” were interviewed on face to face. Don, a 23 year old member shares the same answer among the 5 people interviewed, that he doesn’t send message to someone with a “gym-fit body” for invitation to be a friend, nor even ask them for a date since it always mean rejection, which has been proven by experience. Carlo, 24 years old, when asked about this trend, said that he only sends messages to someone having a not so developed body to
avoid rejection.

page of a friendster member

page of a friendster member


These resulted to stereotyping for both parties and created an effect of marginalization. Those with a “gym-fit body” claim the higher part of the hierarchy and the marginalized users either has to pump up themselves with steroids to date them and keep up with them or instead date persons within themselves. Questions were also posted about this to the users with “gym-fit body”, answers vary according to preference, but most of their preferred dates are of the same appearance.

Echoing the argument posted by Boyd in her article Friendster and Publicly Articulated Social Networking (2004) that one is simply performing for the public, but in doing so, one obfuscates the quirks that often make one interesting to a potential suitor. Thus, some users were also interviewed through messaging about why they post images with what they consider to be sexy, majority of the answers agree to the premise.

for friendster user 2

for friendster user 2


Going back to our respondent in the introduction, Jerome, considering the availability of pictures of the guy he has been stalking to, found the best avenue of stalking as his subject presented himself on his most vulnerable condition of being nude. This leads to a lot of issue. An issue of privacy on
exhibitionism and voyeurism can be extracted

Part 4 Online Gay Social Networking Sites: Effects and Marginalization methodology of the study

To gather more information, an ad – hoc profile has been created in several homosexual social networking sites namely Downelink.com, Guys4men.com, and Manjam.com. Downelink.com and Guys4men were chosen since the sites ranks number 5 and number 6 respectively as to site traffic worldwide since March 17, 2007 on The Weekly Market Share of Visits Rankings Gay and Lesbian Category (Dawley 2007). Guys4men has about 370000 members and about 97000 of these are in the Philippines – mostly in Metro Manila region.

Several users have been interviewed about their usage of the site. Questions were about messaging, contents of the messages, and the effects on them personally. Several profiles were also evaluated and were observed.Part 3 of this

Part 2 Online Gay Social Networking Sites: Effects and Marginalization

Online Gay Social Networking Sites: Effects and Marginalization

Alongside with the development of these sites is also the growth for the market for the homosexuals, numerous online gay social networking sites have sprawled like mushrooms. Phil Anderson, founded Guys4men in 2001 which is now Planetromeo, he developed the site as an alternative for gays since there were only few online social networking sites for gays during that time and were very expensive to join (Rios, 2007).

Sample page for signing up for downelink

Sample page for signing up for downelink

Typically, when a person joins a social networking site, whether for a heterosexual or for homosexual site, the initial step will be filling out a form with his/her real name, gender or for other
sites – gender of preference, age, address, race or ethnicity, birthday, other sites includes school or university they attended and the course they took up, or is currently enrolled in, location where they were born and other personal information. Then he/she will always sign a user agreement of the terms and conditions of the site. After the initial step, the user will now fill out the form for his/her profile with his picture/s, interests on music, hobbies movies, books, and a description of himself/herself. This profile would be his/her “identification” and would be shown to the public, or he/she may somehow choose to have it shown privately and accessible only by the members of
his network, or his/ her “friends”.

The contents of the profile set the difference between the heterosexual sites and the homosexual sites. Majority of the heterosexual sites tend to be more conservative in nature whereas homosexual sites tend to be more aggressive in presenting themselves to the public. The latter, having contents like user’s role in bed and his/her preferred partner’s role in bed. In Guys4men and Manjam.com for example, physical statistics such as waistline, chest line, height and weight matters, although the user may have the option not to answer the field.

Page of a friendster member

Page of a friendster member

The profile pictures of the users of the online gay social sites also tend to be more revealing than the wholesome nature of the heterosexual networking sites. Some users confidently show off their whole body despite of the pornographic prohibition clause stated in the agreement.

Another difference is the statement of gender; homosexual social networking sites tend to be very specific on the gender preference of their members. Aside from the generic male and female, there are additional fields like, bisexual, gay, lesbian, transsexual or transgender, transvestite. New terms like hag/tag, downe, purple, and undecided among others were also introduced.a href=”http://thefilipinogay.blogspot.com/2009/06/online-gay-social-networking-sites_871.html”>Part 1 of this


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