Gay community finds ‘comfort’ on social media

New York, Jan 20: Filtering through YouTube video messages, an Indian-origin scientist has concluded that members belonging to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community find the most comfort in messages that both support them and advocate social change.

“I was inspired when I saw the grassroots online movement that started in late 2010 of people posting video messages to teenagers who faced prejudice and harassment based on their actual or presumed sexual orientation,” said Aneeta Rattan of London Business School.

“As a researcher, I realised that this behaviour – publicly addressing prejudice toward another group and communicating support for members of that group – is so rare that there is not a clear body of psychological science on it,” she said.

Along with collaborator Nalini Ambady, who died in October last year, of Stanford University, she decided to use the ‘It Gets Better’ YouTube campaign as a window into the content and impact of such ‘intergroup’ communication.

Rattan and Ambady analysed the content of the 50 most viewed videos with the #ItGetsBetter hashtag, which together were viewed over 15 million times, said the study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

They ‘coded’ the messages in the videos as either messages of comfort, of social connection, or of social change.

Social connection messages focused on the idea that LGBT teenagers targeted by prejudice would find social acceptance in the future.

Social change messages focused on the idea that the situation can, should, or would change, the study noted.

While all messages communicated comfort and many included messages about social connection, only 22 percent mentioned social change, the study noted.

“Social media today is a new frontier for communicating intergroup attitudes,” said Rattan.

IANS