When the word freedom comes round in conversation, I admit social media isn’t the first phrase that come to mind. In modern society, freedom, especially for anyone who’s spent their lives severely restricted, means a place where you have a choice, a say in who you want to be.
I know that many look down upon the idea, but I truly believe there’s a kind of solace and open space that can be found through your passions and interest on social media (and fandom as well) that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else.
When Twitter first came about, I’ll admit the idea of people posting what they were doing all day long wasn’t a point of interest for me. (That scene in the movie Easy A when Olive’s favorite teacher literally spoke about Twitter would be the best reflection of my belief at the time.)
Over time though, when I really took an active interest in finding people who enjoyed the same interests I did on there (along with Tumblr, Instagram, etc) it became a place, not for me to make fun of, but to meet kindred souls who freaked out over the same fictional characters, stories, books, shows, games – the list is endless, that I love dearly to this day.
When we are out in the world, most people feel compelled to present the face we feel fits within the society we live in. When I’m at work I try to maintain a professional composure, and focus on the job in front of me. When I’m out with close friends who introduce me to people I’ve never met, I ask the basic questions you tend to fall back on when you are conversing with strangers in a relatively close setting.
I know how to put on a good face, crack a few jokes, and even put on a façade – pretending, in a way, to be comfortable, but those interactions are never a true reflection of myself, since most social situations outside our homes call for a different expectation, even if it’s an unwritten rule we never put a voice to.
On the internet, especially on social media, none of those rules exist. There are no preconceived judgments from outside circumstances. We aren’t required to keep polite manners in a café, banned topics in the workplace, or awkward small-talk chitchat at a dinner party. All we have is who we are, a place to express our unabashed enthusiasm over what makes us happy without any fear of judgment. It’s an open path to walk through only to turn around and realize you were never alone, and that you never will be again.
If the outside world wants to judge me (and it usually will) that’s alright. I always know where to look to find the place that, in all its vastness and complexity, gives me the freedom of never having worry about how I look, or what’s a proper topic to bring up or what side of politics I’m expected to fall on. It may be the oldest cliché in the world, but there’s honestly nothing better than getting the experience of being yourself.