“The Digital Ephemeral Turn: Queer Theory, Privacy, and the Temporality of Risk.” Media, Culture & Society. Online first.
Social media’s shift from storing media permanently by default, to supporting increasingly diverse temporalities of display and interaction has important implications for understanding the political economy of the digital. In this article, I use queer theory to complicate the normative dimensions of the privacy discourses that popularly frame digital ephemerality, suggesting instead that we understand the ephemeral as redistributing the pleasures and dangers of risk. To demonstrate, I do a close reading of the functions, design choices, and aesthetics of popular digital communication platforms, which increasingly provide the affective texture and context for everyday life. Using Snapchat and Apple’s Find My Friends and iMessage as case studies, I highlight a profitable dynamic between promiscuous exposure and monogamous retrenchment.