Bernadette Rakszawski by wuyunqing

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									Bernadette Rakszawski

HDFS 250

Discussion Paper 1

March 17, 2008



       The Internet has brought around many changes in the world in the past years. It

has lead to great advances in many areas, one of them being social networking. There are

many different options to communicate with people all over the world. There are chat

rooms, email, and social networks like MySpace and Facebook that allow people to form

communities. This has been something that everyone has been affected by. People in the

LGBTQA community have been able to take advantage of these networks. For this

community, the Internet is an opportunity to foster both strength and growth while facing

dangers and risks.

       With technology at a person‟s fingertips, their community can expand far beyond

their geographical limits to cross over continents. Community is one aspect of life that is

vital for a person to feel assured and healthy. A sense of community is crucial to people

who are struggling with feelings of alienation because of their identity. As stated in

lecture, community fosters a feeling of belonging. It provides its members with

protection and an environment where a person can be who they are, with people who are

like them. A shared bond develops (Katrina Sinclair, lecture, February 11, 2008). These

qualities can all translate into a community that develops and thrives on the Internet.

Since gay communities are a minority, they may be hard for people to discover in their

own physical communities. But with a digital community at their fingertips, a person can
find what they are seeking and add to it as it is constantly growing as time goes on. It can

increase in size because of its accessibility and anonymity. The lack of geographical

limits also allows different LGBTQA communities to join together even though they may

be miles apart.

       With this development of a community through the Internet, a person‟s

Bronfrenbrenner Systems can also be altered in a positive way. Their microsystem can

expand to include a large community that they can enjoy as one of its members. Having

such a strong sense of support in their microsysterm will enhance a person‟s exosystem

and macrosystem. A mesosystem will immediately change with the inclusion of the

LGBTQA Internet community. The accessibility to the community will foster a higher

quantity of people participating in it. Also, the anonymity of the Internet will allow

people to join the community who truly need the support, without risk of other members

in their mesosystem finding out. With an increase in size and public knowledge of the

LGBTQA community, the macrosystem will be forced to change. With the greater

prevalence of the community, more of society will begin to accept this community

(Matthew Callahan, lecture, January 23, 2008). As this acceptance grows, the

macrosystem will change so that being part of the LGBTQA community is not accosted

with as much prejudice.

       The availability of the Internet has made it possible for teens to gain access to the

LGBTQA community. Sanders states that with the access to chat rooms and email, teens

are finding support and a social network when they would otherwise be devoid of one (as

cited in Ellas, 2007.). Teens are searching for social and emotional support. People, not
only gay teens, now have the ability to receive the benefits of being part of a community

because of the availability of the Internet and its different communication avenues.

        Although the Internet offers multiple benefits to the LGBTQA community, there

are some instances when it can be detrimental. With the anonymity and universal access

to the Internet, members of the online gay community are at risk of cyber-bullying.

Sorenson (2007) says, “Cyber-bullying is „the new big thing‟” (as cited in Ellas, 2007).

People who chose to post their gay status on the Internet are not only expressing it to the

gay community, but also the Internet community at large. This opens up the chance of

receiving hateful comments or threats through chat rooms or different networking sites.

This is an awful practice that brings hate into a community‟s life when they are trying to

foster strength.

        One of the benefits of the Internet is that the community can spread beyond the

limits created by land. However, this also can act as an inhibitor. Although, this social

network may be huge, it may not be possible to experience this community in a physical

relationship. Because of the distance, people may not be able to meet, leaving them a

intangible positive community. This absence can be hard - a person needs people that

they can visit and spend their time with. If a relationship is confined in cyber space, it

may not be completely fulfilling.

        With the Internet also comes the issue of anonymity. This can be a great asset to

the style of the community, allowing people who are unsure and uncomfortable with

“being out” to participate. However, this also lends itself to several negative issues.

There have been hate crimes that occur because the true nature of people is not

discovered through chat rooms and emails. Cloud (2008) describes the story of Michael
Sandy. Sandy met Anthony Fortunato in a gay chat room. They arranged to meet, and

when they did, Fortunato and several others beat, robbed, and chased Sandy into traffic,

where he was hit by a car and killed. Because of anonymity, horrible cases like this can

continue to occur. Also, cyber bullies are able to attack with out fear of people

discovering who they are in return.

       Because of anonymity, Sandy had no way of knowing Fortunato‟s sincerity, and

in this case, it cost him his life. Because people can say they are whoever they want to be

on the Internet, people met through this outlet cannot always be trusted. This is difficult

because people joining this LGBTQA Internet community looking for protection and

socialization, may come across people who are only pretending to fit in to this group.

This can end with negative results that are detrimental to the growth and fulfillment of

the LGBTQA community.

       The Internet holds many dangers to anyone who is willing to use its different

communication opportunities, and this holds true to the LGBTQA community.

Fortunately, it does offer multiple ways to enhance the community. The gay community

can continue to grow and help its members while also becoming more prevalent in

society.
Cloud, John. (2008). Prosecuting the Gay Teen Murder. TIME. Retrieved February 20,

       2008, from http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1714212,00.html

Ellas, Marilyn. (2007). Gay teens coming out earlier to peers and family. USA Today.

       Retrieved March 16, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-

       07-gay-teens-cover_x.htm

								
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