Being born in the latter part of the 90s does not give you much of anything, really. You can neither proudly call yourself a ‘true-blue 90s kid’ nor can you relate to the nostalgia that comes with the popular series of memes floating around on social media. One thing, however, that I can boast about is witnessing the evolution of the Internet. And through it, my own.
As a teenager, Google became my haven, to learn and unlearn the realities around me. Growing up, knowing I was gay in a heteronormative society, the cause of butterflies in my stomach was vastly different from that of the girls in my group. Curious to know more about that and so many other confusions that I had about feeling feelings, questions were invariably typed out rapidly into a search bar. Quickly the prefix ‘www’ became my gateway to understand myself better. From taking all the innocent ‘Am I really gay?’ quizzes (*whispers* I was always oscillating within a 75%-85% range, not that that’s got anything to do with anything), to asking more serious questions like the ‘biological reasons’ that dictate anyone’s sexual orientation (now I know better!), to watching ‘Coming Out’ videos on YouTube in an effort to find something familiar. It is rather edifying to find information that one can relate to through a solitary rectangular box. Over time, this solitary box somehow stuck around while everything around it changed as the world moved even further into a digital era. Now, with social platforms only three taps away, I am guilty of taking the power of the digital for granted. To be able to find my own kind, to be able to express myself to my own kind and to be able to constantly learn more about the larger community that shares a similar thread as me, especially in a country that’s still not-there-yet in terms of actively incorporating the LGBTQIA+ perspective in day-to-day matters or even acknowledging that we exist and seeing us as equal persons, these platforms become more than just apps. More, by means of creating a space that one can choose to be in, anonymously or not, that choice in itself is freeing, making these platforms more affirming of one’s identity.
As a life-long introvert, I can tell you we have the ability to operate easily from behind a screen. My first-ever date was with someone I met online. Had I not spoken to her online, I am not sure if I would have had the courage to ask her out.
Putting this ease of connectivity in context in today’s pandemic-struck world, I am sitting here struggling to answer the question, “What would we do without it?” with a selfish undertone of “What would I do without it?” Just like for many of us, the lockdown entailed I return to my parental home after having lived on my own for a good part of the year. Working from home in itself is not easy. Working from your parental home is even harder, above all when you’ve learned to live your own way. So, for times when friction brews, the online world is a nice place to find respite – one can just go watch or read something, and avoid getting into unnecessary arguments!
For as long as I can remember, the Internet has been my go-to resource in any decision that required me to give my sexuality a thought. Choosing a career path was one of them. I wanted to be in a place of work where people are known to be ‘liberal’ (for the lack of a better term) so that I could be my most authentic self while bringing my creativity to the table. For me, I found that place to be in the world of advertising.
The Internet to some extent also moulds itself to play protector for queer kids. We can use it as a guide as we try to understand ourselves in a world where we may not know many like us or may not always feel safe, to get information and connect with people who have already experienced, in their own way, what we are going through.
Well then, from understanding myself to my first-ever date – I guess I owe it to the techies who thought it would be a good idea to build a network that becomes increasingly available to more and more people. As they innovate further and make the Internet a public utility, I am positive that the relationship between innovation and sexuality will only grow, letting more people explore and understand their sexuality in their own unique ways.
Cover Image: Pixabay