Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Sara Bridges

Committee Member

Douglas Strohmer

Committee Member

Lisbeth Berbary

Committee Member

Elin Ovrebo


Social Media has become one of the most popular ways to communicate and use the Internet. Previous research has shown that Internet use can have both positive and negative effects on users' wellbeing, network quality, and life satisfaction. Further, self-disclosure is greatly increased and facilitated online, resulting in a loss of privacy. The aim of this case study was to provide an understanding of online publicness through an in-depth investigation of three social media users who maintained public profiles with minimal or no privacy settings. Participants included three individuals with publicly accessible blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Results showed that they were either naturally public people that found sharing online easy and an outgrowth of their personalities, or they had encountered circumstances that required their publicness, like being visible to past friends on Facebook, participating in public discourse through their blog, or talking with celebrities on Twitter. My findings also showed that my participants maintained their publicness online due to a variety of benefits, including making friends, convenient communication, conversation, their network, and celebrity connections. These benefits were also juxtaposed with several negative effects that publicness caused online and off. My participants negotiated these effects by being vulnerable, filtering harmful or hurtful content, maintaining their identity, accepting little privacy, and coping with the negative reactions of others.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.