Dating Apps as Digital Flyovers: Mobile Media and Global Intimacies in a Postcolonial City

Part of the Mobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications book series (MCALIGI)


This chapter is about middle-class millennial Filipino women and their experiences of mediated global intimacies in the Philippines postcolonial capital of Manila. It focuses on their use of mobile technologies in exploring relationships with foreign men, and Westerners particularly. Drawing on an 18-month ethnographic research, this chapter sheds light on how the women use mobile apps to enact a distinct and temporary resolution to the challenges of experiencing global intimacies in a postcolonial city. Specifically, they construct what we call ‘digital flyovers’, that is, digital infrastructures borne out of dating apps and other mobile media that allow them to bypass what they think to be ‘uncosmopolitan’ Filipino men and to connect with foreign romantic prospects who share their own ‘globalised’ backgrounds and sensibilities. We show that, on one hand, these digital flyovers demonstrate how the women do have the privilege of accessing spaces conducive to cosmopolitan global intimacies, something that is elusive for most people in the Philippines. We also underscore, on the other hand, that these digital flyovers do nothing to change the ‘foundations’ of the society beneath them, which means that middle-class Manila’s distinct social dynamics continue to persist in their romantic and sexual lives.


Postcolonial city Millennials Cross-cultural relationships Digital intimacy Dating apps 



We are grateful to Jozon Lorenzana and Cheryll Ruth Soriano for their insightful comments on the draft versions of this piece. We would also like to thank our fellow scholars who shared their thoughts on the presentation versions of this piece at the School of Media and Communication Research Seminar Series at the University of Leeds, UK, the Online Intimacies, Intimacies Online Conference at Roskilde University, Denmark, and the Digital Transactions in Asia 2018 Conference at De La Salle University-Manila, The Philippines.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.De La Salle University—ManilaManilaPhilippines

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