How to Find Your Authentic Voice Online

Change the world, one uncomfortable conversation at a time. This is what I have been telling myself for the last two years. I began my journey online in 2020, during the start of the global COVID pandemic, as a Black Cisgender Heterosexual Woman. I can now proudly express my evolution into a Queer, Genderqueer person who is constantly exploring, analyzing & deconstructing the societal norms that had convinced me I was a CisHet Woman to begin with. I found my truest identity by cultivating an online community of people who were just as hungry to dissect & dismantle all of the insidious ways in which we have been socialized to fit into carefully curated heteronormative, eurocentric boxes.
Initially, I had not considered how difficult it would be to share some of my most raw, honest, & vulnerable thoughts to the world. This is when I saw overwhelming proof that everyone views the world through a different lens. 

You may ask yourself, “how is it possible to have open discussions about racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, gender & sexuality with people who don’t even see the world in the same way I see it? How is it possible to have these conversations with people who don’t communicate, listen or learn the same way? Our lives offline often mirror these same ideas as soon as we think of the disagreements or arguments we have had with parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends & co-workers. However, these conversations are exceedingly more difficult when you only have 1-3 minutes to explain the entirety of your thoughts in one online video. It has been a long, frustrating & enlightening journey of having to learn to engage in uncomfortable conversations with people who live in different countries, have varying beliefs & lead uniquely individual lives. 

The answer to finding your authentic voice online stems from one overarching theme: empathy.

First, it is important to begin with developing an immense amount of empathy for yourself. You will most definitely make mistakes, grow, learn, & evolve, just as you would in your life offline. Give yourself grace & patience, especially because you won’t always be granted those things by the users online. 

Secondly, one of the only ways to engage in a healthy discussion with another person about an uncomfortable &/or controversial topic, is to humanize & empathize with them. If you can do your best to understand where another person is coming from, the probability of each person feeling heard increases immensely. Uncomfortable conversations about race, gender, sexuality & ability often become aggressive or heated because feelings of defensiveness can arise quickly. When we feel as though our character, core beliefs & value system, &/or identity are being challenged, it is natural to feel hurt. 

Now, this is where things get tricky. Two things can be true at the same time: we can show empathy toward another human being, while also refusing to tolerate or accept harmful behaviors. This is why it is important to carefully select who you have the energy to engage with. For example, sometimes I have the energy to address homophobes or racists online & use those conversations as an opportunity to educate or shed light on common social issues. Sometimes I absolutely do not have that energy. The beauty of social media is that you have so much more control than the algorithms lead you to believe. You can decide who you want to engage with & when you want to put your phone down. 

As I am sure you have been able to gather by now, there are many dangers and difficulties with presenting your most vulnerable self to the world. There will always be people who will try to tear you down, insult you, gaslight you, & hurt you. However, it is essential to remember that you are never alone. You will inevitably become part of one or multiple online communities who will support and uplift you. Personally, I did not have connections with openly queer people in my life offline. I believe this is partly why it took me until age 23 to realize I was queer. My online interactions were the only queer interactions I could have, especially during the pandemic.

Online community is community.
Online community is valid.

To conclude, the keys to finding your authentic voice online are to show yourself empathy, show others empathy, & locate your online community. The journey will be uncomfortable. It is important to embrace & lean into that discomfort to break through it. 

The journey will be uncomfortable. It is important to embrace & lean into that discomfort to break through it.

About the Author

Tyra Blizzard

Tyra Blizzard (she/they/he/ze) is a Social Activism Influencer, Public Speaker, Professional Basketball Player, & Small Business Owner. Her mission on social media is to combine her passions for social justice & health by initiating important conversations about racism, misogyny, mental/physical/spiritual/sexual health, women in sport, gender & sexuality, homophobia transphobia, & ableism, among many other social justice issues. She has created creative & safe spaces on TikTok, Instagram & YouTube where people can discuss these taboo/controversial topics, free of censorship or judgement.

 
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