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.
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.