Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ambar Basu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth Cissna, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lori Roscoe, Ph.D.


dsocial media, self, digital native, relationships, text messaging, Facebook


People connect digitally through social media, fusing their relationships with meaning in a non-space of relational potential--a translucent and fluctuating enclave where the self becomes elastic. This thesis explores how I have formed bonds in virtual space through ritual interaction. Looking at the ways I learned to use technology through the progression of a close personal relationship, I suggest that social media use is a performance of identity--a virtuality that exposes how people negotiate the digital enclosure of contemporary society. My story is one of digital nativity and reclaiming love through virtual performance. I show how these performances have had a profound impact on my understanding of self-in-relation-to-other. Finally, I put forth a theory of Real Virtuality, suggesting that virtual reality has escaped the confines of the machine. Thus, digital conversations penetrate offline social situations in ways that have stirring consequences for people in the digital age.