Friendships through the style choice of virtual stickers: Young adults manage aesthetic identity and emotion on a social messaging line app

With social media and modern pop culture (e.g., virtual stickers) reshaping social dynamics, young Taiwanese consumers who engage in social messaging via the Line app are introducing new interaction avenues that change communication habits and style choices to meet their tastes and interpersonal needs.

Introduction

Sherry Turkle's (2015) latest book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Agepoints to a cyber socio-cultural phenomenon that challenges all aspects of human development, including the interface of biological, emotional, a reported by Van Grove (2016) showed that social messaging applications (e.g., Line) are on a fast track to having a billion users, growing so fast that they are overshadowing even social networks as a favorite smartphone activity among youngsters. According to one report (DMR Business Statistics, 2018), the app Line has 218 million users worldwide who are active on an at least monthly basis and who send more than 2.4 billion virtual stickers every day—a significant increase from the 268 million virtual sticker sets sold in all of 2015 (Seward, 2016). Today, Line's virtual stickers are seen as a virtual aesthetic symbol. Thompson, Arnould, and Giesler (2013) suggested that the contemporary world of the agentic consumer is "a kind of symbolic supermarket in which autonomous consumers made selections, chose identities, and extended their core selves through the ownership and use of material goods (or virtual aesthetic objects)" (p. 156).

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