Online spaces: how to balance safety and connection

by Salomée Lou, November 2022 

As women, girls and genderfluid people, we are used to taking initiatives to protect ourselves from the patriarchy. From a young age, this responsibility is put on us. It is so ingrained in our upbringing, that we only realise much later that some behaviours towards us are not actually normal. 

From pretending to be on the phone on our way back home when it is dark outside, to the classic keys in between our knuckles, without forgetting the “home safe” text that you send to your pals - even when we go out to have fun and forget about the constant shoulds, we can never completely switch off.

As an early 90s baby, I grew up at the same time as technology. I remember late nights on MSN, the Tumblr days and writing fan fics, but handheld social media only came into my life pretty much when I left home to go to University. It was the perfect timing for my relatives to keep up with my life away from home and for me to post song lyrics as cryptic emotional updates.

However, this generation is the first whose childhoods are inextricably linked to their online presence.

Growing up, I was bullied at school (kids can be cruel) but for me, at least it stopped when I closed the front door and found refuge in my bedroom. 

Nowadays, there seems to be no escape from harassment. 

Digital spaces can be a great resource and a place of empowerment. Especially when thinking of a global pandemic that stripped us away from those important physical connections, how could we otherwise stay connected to our loved ones? Or find distractions when the news is soul-crushing? At the same time, we need to find a balance between enjoying the advantages of these tools and ensuring we are protected from harmful messages, online bullying and abuse.

We all deserve a safe, healthy relationship to our devices.

If you would like to discuss strategies for digital self-care and collective empowerment, join us for a special evening on Tuesday 22nd November  to listen to two incredible authors: Seyi Akiwowo and Soma Sara discussing their two books. The panel will be moderated by Caitlin McCullough, expert in communications and fundraising in the Violence Against Women & Girls sector for Glitch UK.

With events like these, we aim to make feminist and political action accessible in more mainstream spaces where everyone can hear about these topics and learn ways to prevent harmful behaviours.

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