The Access Problem

According to his Internet access model, social media specialist Van DiJk suggests there are many different reasons why people in the 21st century are not using the Internet. In his model he offers various motives, which explain why there is such a large portion of society not taking advantage of the Internet.

There is one figure in particular that I find particularly strange. According to his information, Van Dijk estimates that 10% of young people aged 17 to 23 define themselves as “lapsed internet users” meaning they were once – perhaps at school – online, but since they left such establishments they haven’t continued to connect. Now, when it comes to us gays, I can’t help but wonder, why?

The motive I find most interesting and possibly relatable is cyber bullying.

We have all been made aware of cyber bullying, whether we have been victims, culprits or onlookers, I’m sure there has been a time in all of our lives where we have seen cyber bullying taking place. Luckily for me, the worst I ever got was a few nasty questions on “Form spring” but I know that there are thousands of people out there who were not so lucky.

Whilst researching the topic of cyber bullying and us gays, I came across another blogger who had some rather interesting information about the United States and Internet content filtration.

According to John Aravosis – editor of the LGBT blog ‘AMERICA blog’ – the pentagon has in force a filter, which finds – and in many cases blocks – pro LGBT websites (I wonder if this blog is on their hit-list?).

This although shocking as it may be, was not what I found disturbing. What sent my head spinning, was reading on that the pentagon has no such filtration or blockage on anti gay websites.

These are websites dedicated to spread the word that being gay is disgusting and a reason for concern. They relish in the prospect of hurting other people, of striking them down, crushing their spirit and oh did I mention (pardon my French) they are also utter bullshit.

I can’t help but wonder whether or not there is a link between gay teen suicides in America, and the filtration problem. Perhaps if there were a blockade on anti gay web sources, teenagers wouldn’t feel as isolated and hopeless.

When it comes to us gays, in the case of un-just access barriers, we can see that the Internet can (when so unfairly filtered by governments) be used to make us feel alone and hopeless.

But we are not alone, and we are not hopeless. For everyone out there that has ever been bullied for being who you are, no matter what the bigots and bullies of the cyber world (and real world) have to say about you, know this – you are beautiful, important and so, so loved.

Reference
Aravosis, J, 2013, LGBT bad, Anti-LGBT good. [Online] available from; http://americablog.com/2013/02/dod-memo-gay-internet-filter-ban.html [accessed 27th February 2013]

Advertisements

Finding the Right Path – Motivations

As my years as a teenager are entering there final stage (that’s right, the big 19 is right around the corner…HELP) and I look back at the last few years of my life, I cannot believe how drastically things have changed. For a start, this blog would never exist, because 2 years ago I wasn’t out of the closet and the fear of being discovered, as its author would have stopped me writing it.

It was as I pondered back through the last 4 years, I had a sudden realization; I used to be so very lost.

I was living in a world where I felt like I was the only boy who liked other boys. A world where the possibility of disappointing my friends and family because of what I was stopped me from being happy. It was a world filled with loneliness.

I knew what I was, and at the time I hatted myself because of it. I was terrified, I grew up in a small town where the world ‘Gay’ was used to describe things as silly and irrelevant, where boys are supposed to love girls, and the norm (at the time) suggested gay kids get bullied for being themselves.

My universe when I was 14 was a dark and scary place. It was around this time that I decided to type the words “I think I might be gay” into Google – I still have no idea what I was expecting to come up, but I can tell you this, I got a very good answer.

The first few results displayed articles by publications such as the Times and the Guardian, the next few had links to ‘Bebo’ pages, and then there was one for a YouTube channel. It was at this point I met Davey Wavey.

The Google link took me to a YouTube channel, which belonged to a guy named Davey. He was 23, and made video blogs about his life, his experiences and his sexuality. When I the opened the page, a video appeared titled “when I knew I was gay”. This video changed my life.

I watched the video about 20 times before I went to bed that night. It was the first thing I had ever seen which made me not only proud of what I was, but happy. In the video, Davey talked about his own experience and I could not believe how similar we were.

He talks about how – like me – he knew he liked men from a young age, but only found out there was others like him when he was 12. I’m still not too sure what it was about the video that made me so happy, perhaps it was simply finding out that I was still ‘normal’.

After my first experience with Davey Wavey, I regularly watched his videos, kept up with his blog and ultimately became an aspiring biggest fan. Since that day 5 years ago, many other gay YouTubers have made their voices heard and given advice to other young men who are lost in their own identities. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had It not been for YouTube. Would I still be lost? Would I still be depressed? Would I even be here?

All I know is this, thanks to the invention of social networking I was able to not only discover part of who I am, but meet other people who have been through the same trials as myself. On this occasion, when it comes to us gays, Social networking is most defiantly a friend, because it has placed not only myself, but also thousands of worried gay teens on the right path.Image