Older family members and family friends occasionally make fun of the fact that I’m often on my laptop or on my phone. But the fact of the matter is that moving back to a place where most people I know are in different cities, states, and/or countries, finding a community was more difficult than I realized. Having access to the internet, to my phone has been lifesaving because I’ve been able to communicate with others that live far away or that I’ve never actually met in real life.
So when I watched the below video about homeless youth finding community online, there was a big part of me that could relate to some of their experiences. After spending a year of flip flopping between multiple living places (particularly the constant moving between my parents’ places), having a constant place to come and just be me has been lifesaving.
The producer of the video, France Costrel, spoke with The Advocate and said that:
“All of the homeless kids I met in Atlanta told me the same story: when they were kicked out by their parents, the only thing they had left is a bag of clothes and their phones… They had nowhere to go and no one to speak to. As a result, the online communities became one of the only ways they could still connect with the world. While their families rejected them, they found acceptance on social media and in online communities.” (source)
That, for me, touches on the importance of online communities and on the necessity for the internet as a whole. Having access to a community that isn’t physically available to you for whatever reason can be revolutionary, life saving even. And in a world where ableism thrives and accessibility is often not truly accessible, getting to physical places and events can be difficult for some. So having a space to talk with others, to learn, to come together can be really great.
Social media can also be incredibly important for activism and social change as well. How much would we know about different events if people on the ground witnessing what was happening didn’t tweet or use any kind of social media to talk about their experiences? Often mainstream media and news stations get information wrong (not to say that everyone on social media is always right) or they might be actively excluded from certain things. And social media can give others a platform that they might not have access to in any other way.