Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Alison Cool

Second Advisor

Dr. Kate Fischer

Third Advisor

Dr. Iskra Fileva


This thesis is a digital ethnographic study of University students in the Denver-Boulder metro area, aged 18-24, and their use of Instagram and online dating applications. While scholars have previously studied digital ethnography, and analyses of online discourse, this thesis aims to understand the real-world implications of participation on the "virtual" or digital application of Instagram. These implications are regarding the commodification of identities, the construction of envy and desire by means of performative and painful vulnerability, as well as the development of real romantic relationships. While users and scholars alike may dismiss social media and online interactions as being "fake" this ethnography provides insight into the very real impact of Instagram on college students in the Denver-Boulder metro area.