It’s hard talking about media without sounding like a cliche. Anything you can say has probably been said a hundred times before. But in a way, that is what I find most comforting about media; there is always a community to be found. No matter what it is you want to discuss, or explore or just appreciate, there is going to be a group of people online with similar interests and opinions as you.
Personally, my first experience of finding an online community was when I was around 14, confused and lost about who I was. Growing up in India, my exposure to anything LGBTQ+ was limited to negative stereotypes and judgment. So naturally when I began to question who I was, I became scared and defensive, not knowing who I could speak to about it. Around the same time a friend had added me to a Facebook group for young fans of anything from the so called “geek culture” that I was a part of. However I soon found out that the online friendship that people formed on there were not limited just to fandoms but also included their personal, day to day lives. It was no different from the friends I had at school. We spoke everyday, like I did with my friends at school, and we supported and relied on each other, like I did with my friends at school, and it was on that group that I was able to make friends who, for the first time, finally had this ‘alien’ aspect of life in common with me.
At the time it seemed a bit insignificant, but looking back now I realise just how much this online community amongst media helped me gain confidence in who I am and what I am. It is the same confidence that I rely on now to face any hatred or bigotry I am dealt out in the real world. And that is exactly why I heart media, because I know that somewhere there is another little girl, doubting herself, hoping she’s not a bad person and soon enough she’ll find her community online, who may accept her and treat her well even if the ‘real’ world around her doesn’t.
— Ashna Wiegerink