Engaging analysis of men-seeking-men media as paradoxical sites of both self-marketing and radical queer sociality.
In work, play, education, and even healthcare, we are using social media during COVID-19 to approximate "normal life" before the pandemic. In Screen Love, Tom Roach urges us to do the opposite. Rather than highlight the ways that social media might help reproduce the pre-pandemic status quo, Roach explores how Grindr and other dating/hookup apps can help us envision a radically new normal: specifically, antinormative conceptions of selfhood and community. Although these media are steeped in neoliberal relational and communicative norms, they offer opportunities to reconceive subjectivity and ethics in ways that defy normative psychological and sexual paradigms. In the virtual cruise, Roach argues, we might experience a queer sociability in which participants are formally interchangeable avatar-objects. On Grindr and other m4m platforms, a model of selfhood championed in liberal-humanist traditions—an intelligent, altruistic, eloquent, and emotionally expressive self—is often a liability. By teasing out the queer ethical and political potential of an antisocial, virtual fungibility, Roach compels readers to think twice about media typically dismissed as sordid, superficial, and narcissistic. Written for students, professors, and nonacademics alike, Screen Love is an accessible, provocative, and at times subversively funny read.
Tom Roach is Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Bryant University. He is the author of Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement, also published by SUNY Press.
"That a book invites its reader to think and question is, by default, a sign of its merits. In its partly open-ended and lively conversational style, interspersed with conceptually dense and neatly sculpted sentences, Screen Love achieves the difficult task of showing that, however powerful the dynamics of neoliberalism, it is crucial to hold on to spaces that enable alternate understandings of those dynamics and their implications. The book outlines pockets and patterns of possibility, virtualities that may or may not actualize, but which greatly matter." — Postmodern Culture
"…provides a variety of refreshing perspectives on what Grindr can do for us, and what we can do with Grindr … the book is excellent and deserves multiple readings." — Firstpost
"Tired of being a square on a virtual grid? Lean into it; relish your interchangeability. Can't find love online? Rethink your relationship goals; enjoy the sensual nonsense of the cruise. In Screen Love, Tom Roach extends the arguments developed in his seminal Friendship as a Way of Life to consider the shared estrangements constitutive of contemporary screen-mediated intimacies. In the emphatically queer tradition of antisociality, Roach offers a series of brilliant, and fun, meditations on the radical ethical potential of impersonality, virtual fungibility, and embracing the sameness of our irreducible differences. My own takeaway? Get over yourself if you want to better make an art of your (impersonal) life." — Shaka McGlotten, author of Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality
"With a raucous sensibility and a light touch, Tom Roach reads the screened aesthetics of neoliberal fungibility not as a trap, but as an invitation to explore its queer, world-making potential." — Shannon Winnubst, author of Way Too Cool: Selling Out Race and Ethics
"Wonderfully thought-provoking and incisive, this book made me feel as if I were engaged in an interesting conversation with its author." — Greg Goldberg, author of Antisocial Media: Anxious Labor in the Digital Economy