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Love and shame

Social media has simultaneously increased and diminished privacy in Mardin. It has increased individual privacy from the family; young adults and their secret sweethearts can store pictures on their phones together and privately communicate on WhatsApp and Facebook messaging, hidden from the gaze of parents and relatives. Yet, at the same time, social media has led to the public display of behaviour traditionally belonging to the more private domain. 

Katibe is a 22-year-old university student, but she is originally from another town in the region. She is in a semi-secret premarital relationship with a young man she met at the university.  Her mother, sisters and her university friends know about this, but nobody else does. If knowledge of this relationship reached her hometown it could damage Katibe’s reputation and that of her family. 

While at the university they display their relationship openly, Katibe lives in fear that photos portraying her hand in hand with Lezgin might be posted on Facebook and thereby reach relatives and family friends. So when her university friends take group photos and post them on Facebook, Katibe is always very careful to ensure that the image does not reveal intimacy between her and her boyfriend. Pictures are shared subject to authorisation by Katibe and others portrayed in the picture. Here the boundaries between different social spheres were always patrolled and controlled. But social media makes this a difficult task, threatening the boundary between private and semi-private domains.  

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