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Rural and remote regions frequently face challenges with respect to social connection and community formation. While information and communication technologies (ICTs) are often touted as solutions to rural social and economic challenges, rural areas still lag behind urban areas with respect to ICT access, adoption, and use. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people living in rural areas are a salient population to observe these issues in action, as rural areas have drastically fewer resources for them. Social media and other ICTs can be incredibly important for rural LGBTQ people in navigating issues related to isolation, population density, and a lack of cultural resources. Despite this, a current focus on what social technologies are for in rural spaces (e.g., healthcare delivery), rather than who these technologies are for, limits our opportunities for understanding what the possibilities of social media and other ICTs are for rural people. Using a three-year study of LGBTQ people in the rural Midwest, I highlight unique aspects of rural life that inform social media use. Further, I describe how ethnographic data informs ongoing design work that seeks to better address the unique experiences of rural social media users.
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