Social Media gives the LGBTQIA+ community a way to express themselves more easily when they have been living with an unsupportive family. It helps them connect with their peers and even find partners. It has been observed that many people are now choosing to come out online and identify themselves as queer. Having interaction in social media communities and being able to find validation online have alleviated their mental health. Knowing that a group of people with the same set of ideas and beliefs who you can reach out to anytime and just through a click makes life easier for them, Despite all the benefits it provides to the community, it can also threaten their mental health due to cyberbullying and discrimination.
Problems like people bullying them in the comment section, influencers demeaning the entire community, posts or news in the feed which are anti-community, or inappropriate messages like certain sexual images being flashed at have seen a continuous uprising on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. To ease the stress already being faced, queer people engage on a social media platform and they do find solace there but when they fail to do so it leads to worsening of their already wrecked mental health and can show depressive symptoms. People seek validity about their sexuality online but due to widespread ignorance and homophobia amongst other people, they might not feel validated but instead threatened and may face an existential crisis. When they bear witness to somebody’s internalized queerphobia, they may internalise the prejudices and thus find themselves pushed into a much darker hole mentally.
However, there has been a continuous debate about social media being actually helpful for the community as it provides escape but at the same time, any encounter with anti- LGBTQIA+ people and posts that mock them can be a mental health threat.
It befalls us to ensure that a safe space is provided to everybody, especially to already marginalised community and most importantly on social media platforms as they have massive reach and the ability to trigger anxiety and other mental health traumas in people.
~Written by Shefali Garg