Communities and Social Media

How is providing a safe space for individuals from all walks of life, and creates opportunities for new inclusive forms of communication for all.


The aim of this paper is to discuss the ways in which streaming services, specifically, have been able to provide unique experiences to its communities. has been beneficial to those who may have social or physical limitations as well as a safe space for individuals of different sexual orientations and political affiliations. It will also demonstrate the way Twitch has created communities based around shared interests and has formed new type of communities, as well as creating an all-inclusive environment globally that have also given rise to a new form of political communication with a global reach, spreading awareness not only restricted to one country.

Keywords: Community, Streaming, Social Anxiety, Disabilities, Identity, Communication

The rise of video games and the digital world has opened new pathways for those involved in the online community. Online communities can be used as a way for the imagination to be stretched to allow people to be removed from the present moment and live in a virtual world, streaming services like, YouTube and Facebook Gaming are platforms for this form of escapism (Calleja, 2010). Streaming services like have allowed a variety of personalities and people to thrive and find a sense of place and a way to gain confidence, including those who might not be able to otherwise in the real world, these people include those with disabilities (physical or mental). It has been found to be a platform for those wishing to seek people of similar beliefs and interests and communicate across the globe where this was not possible before. while primarily a gaming streaming service is not just specifically focused on this area, but instead covers a wide range of interests from art, music, science, to fitness and ‘Just Chatting’.

Anxiety or more specifically social anxiety is a mental health condition, it revolves around the fear of being watched and judged by others whether strangers or peers. It can affect day to day life including work, school, social anxiety can also be associated with difficulty in making and maintaining friendships (National Institute of Mental Health, 2021). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is also similar in that it affects communication, behavior, and interaction with other people (National Institute of Mental Health, 2021).

These definitions demonstrate that these conditions are heavily associated with difficulties in communication and creating lasting friendships in person, due to a wide range of scenarios. and for that matter other forms of online communication can be utilized to circumvent these difficulties. With the rise of the internet, it has opened new pathways for anonymity while also allowing people a voice. There have been studies undertaken that prove people with conditions like ASD and Social Anxiety indeed experience a higher rate and quality of friendships online rather than in person and as a result experience lower levels of loneliness (Sundberg, 2018). can create a place for people with these conditions to belong, it is incredibly difficult to feel lonely when navigating, where communication is at your fingertips, through multiple channels and topics. The anonymity of allows people with social anxiety and ASD to be more open and at liberty to share their experiences, lack of face-to-face communication also reduces social anxiety (Martončik, & Lokša, 2016). Because of the variety of channels and creators using, there is an abundance of channels where people with ASD and Social Anxiety can find other people with the same experiences and talk to these people and form long lasting friendships through shared interests (Johnson, 2018). A simple search within will show a large quantity of channels focused on ASD or Social Anxiety. has not only shown to be beneficial to those with Mental Health Issues, but as well as those with a physical disability or impairment. Gaming is traditionally not associated with those with a disability or, if it is, it is always thought of with the association with difficulty or limited to what can be played. Gaming can assist those with disabilities forget what they cannot do in the real world as there are no limitations in an online world, the use of can help with social interaction and can impower people to see past their disabilities (Hawken, 2019). While people with physical disabilities can sometimes have difficulties with physical interaction in person, has created a place for people with these disabilities to make a living. It allows them to engage on a new level with a wide range of people globally and take part in an affluent social life that could be more challenging in real life with these health conditions (Johnson, 2019). has made it very clear in the past for its desire to be more inclusive, it allows people with disabilities to overcome and gain access to community via the internet they might not otherwise have, streaming on has given a pathway for digital entrepreneurship through live streaming for people to make a living from the comfort of their own home and their own chosen working conditions, this includes those with physical and mental disabilities (Johnson, 2019). has also provided many opportunities for creators especially those with physical or mental disabilities a way to reach positive online communities, as well to discuss mental and physical health with people globally. has utilized their platform to create a ‘Just chatting’ category on their platform which covers a wide range of sub genres including charity streams as well as mental health. A simple search in these categories show many videos of people either with mental or physical disabilities taking part. has proven to be a way in which people can reduce loneliness and a way to increase social support and widen their social circle (Martončik, & Lokša, 2016). does this by transcending distances (Jackson, Bailey, & Foucault Welles, 2018), you could talk to anyone globally from any walk of life, the only restriction is an internet connection. Because of Twitch. tv’s variety and ever-expanding website there is a channel or category for everyone including ‘Just Chatting’, Art, Music, Science and Games (, 2021), at any time a person could jump in a channel and interact with each other. Thousands of people use daily to connect and interact with their favourite creators as well as other people in the community. There are many people in the world of today joining online communities whether it be via video games or platforms like, it can provide a sense of community and belonging for people who otherwise feel alienated in everyday life (Williams, Ducheneaut, Xiong, Zhang, Yee, & Nickell, 2006). Using can bring people together with shared interests or believes and build new friendships while also maintaining pre-existing relationships (Sundberg, 2018). market themselves as a place “Where millions of people come together live every day to chat, interact, and make their own entertainment together” (, 2021, para. 1). Because of this focus is at the forefront for live streaming services, people flock to to interact and become part of a range of communities, no other streaming service currently in the market today has as big of a community as There have been many studies conducting focusing on and the benefits from this service for people and their social lives, these studies have shown that through there has been an increase in togetherness with friends, more opportunities for friendships to be formed and a decline in feelings of loneliness (Martončik, & Lokša, 2016). There have been studies to show that these connections and communities that have been created have had a positive impact on the streamers or the creators as well as those who watch (Johnson, 2019). These positive experiences can include new friendships, new interests, as well as a new form of communication, this communication does not always focus on video games or on any specific topic, but it can also include the ordinary experiences from everyone’s day to day lives (Jackson, Bailey, & Foucault Welles, 2018).

The gaming community has always been perceived as full of people who lack social skills or full of introverts, when this could not be further from truth, while yes there is a large portion of the community that are introverts or people who struggle in social situations, it is also full of extroverts and people who thrive off social interaction in real life. This gaming environment has provided a space for players with anxiety in which they can form friendships and relationships which they might not otherwise be able to do in the ‘real world’ (Martončik, & Lokša, 2016). Video games allow the imagination to run free, letting people escape from their present moment and enter different worlds with no limitations (Calleja, 2010), the only thing holding a person back is the imagination itself, and an internet connection. There are so many video games released today that there is always something for anyone with any interest to play, from Sci-Fi, Action, to Horror and Family games. Within some of these games especially Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs) there are many social interactions and friendships formed, some of which are equal to relationships created in the real world (Martončik, & Lokša, 2016), these relationships also cross over occasionally into the real world. With the rise of consumption of video games and the amount of people flocking to join online communities, this has given platforms like the ability to offer careers which involve a wide range of pathways. While streaming via is one of these main career pathways there are also opportunities for sponsorship deals, training and coaching new streaming and broadcasting, these pathways result in the creation of digital celebrities (Johnson, 2019). The ability to turn a stream into a career is open for everyone through’s ‘Affliate’ and ‘Partner’ program, while there are requirements for these before you can progress, everybody has the same chance for success (, 2017). has recently given voice towards political movement. Politicians have started to stream more and more with a goal to reach younger voters, this was especially brought to light during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic (Inverse, 2020).  New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of these politicians moving slowly towards, during a three-and-a-half-hour stream, (which included multiple digital celebrities) Ocasio-Cortez achieved over 430,000 viewers, this stream is ranked third among all concurrent viewer number history (Inverse, 2020).  These streams not only reach the country directly involved but has a global reach and allows communication and interaction on a global scale regarding political issues which has never been seen before. Without the existence of this political outreach would not have otherwise been possible, these political streams on have allowed people with limited access to TV or newspapers to join in and have their voice heard and communicate with people like congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. Political advertising has always tried to narrow a focus to particular groups during election times, because of the advertising now has the ability to reach the younger generation who are new to voting or who will soon to be able to vote (Wired, 2021). Another way has opened communication to be all inclusive is through their ‘tag’ system, streams can be tagged as first-person shooter, chatting, etc… but there is also LGBTQIA+ tags to signify people who not only identify as a non-binary gender, but also allies and those wishing to signify their stream and chat is a safe space for those who do identify with a non-binary gender (Jackson, Bailey, & Foucault Welles, 2018). has used this as a way for LGBTQIA+ people to normalize their identities to observers and a way to create connections with other LGBTQIA+ people globally (Jackson, Bailey, & Foucault Welles, 2018)., has been able to create an all-inclusive environment on their platform, it creates unique experiences to its communities, especially for those who may have social or physical limitations. have used their platform to create a sense of place for all people and allows people to communicate on a global scale that might not otherwise happen due to physical/mental or spatial limitations. Twitch has allowed communities to be created based around shared interests, and popular personalities, it has also opened new ways for potential career pathways to be formed for those with physical disabilities by monetising their streams and content. As has branched off from a pure game streaming platform it has become a successful platform for creating communities for all people from all walks of life.


Calleja, G. (2010). Digital Games and Escapism. Games and culture, 5(4), 335-353.

Hawken, M. (2019). ‘It’s my escape.’ How video games help people cope with disabilities. The Washington post.

Inverse (2020), Twitch may disrupt politics in the 2020s like Twitter did in the 2010s.

Jackson, S. J., Bailey, M., & Foucault Welles, B. (2018). GirlsLikeUs: Trans advocacy and community building online. New media & society, 20(5), 1868-1888.

Johnson, M. R. (2019). Inclusion and exclusion in the digital economy: disability and mental health as a live streamer on Information, communication & society, 22(4), 506-520.

Johnson, M. R., & Woodcock, J. (2019). The impacts of live streaming and on the video game industry. Media, culture & society, 41(5), 670-688.

Martončik, M., & Lokša, J. (2016). Do World of Warcraft (MMORPG) players experience less loneliness and social anxiety in online world (virtual environment) than in real world (offline)? Computers in human behavior, 56, 127-134.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Sundberg, M. (2018). Online gaming, loneliness and friendships among adolescents and adults with ASD. Computers in human behavior, 79, 105-110. (2021), Twitch: Browse (2021), We saved you a seat in chat (2017), Twitch Affiliate Program,coveted%20status%20of%20Twitch%20Partner.

Williams, D., Ducheneaut, N., Xiong, L., Zhang, Y., Yee, N., & Nickell, E. (2006). From Tree House to Barracks: The Social Life of Guilds in World of Warcraft. Games and culture, 1(4), 338-361.

Wired. (2021), Twitch is having a political renaissance

8 thoughts on “How is providing a safe space for individuals from all walks of life, and creates opportunities for new inclusive forms of communication for all.

  1. Hey, Jessica. You left a comment on my paper, so I decided to come check out yours.

    There was a lot here in your paper that I didn’t address, so it’s interesting to see another take on the subject, who caught some of Twitch’s trends that I didn’t notice.

    In relation to this, I was just now checking out, and noted that a lot of these subcategories were largely hidden behind active attempts to search them out. Do you think that Twitch could/should find ways to boost the impact of these minorities, or are they already engaged in doing so?

  2. Hi Jess,

    I’m so glad you mentioned your article in your comment on my own, this was such an interesting paper! Online interactions are so valuable, particularly to individuals who are isolated in their non-virtual lives. Twitch is such a unique platform, and one that I personally love partaking in. There really is such a sense of community and unity on there when you find your niche.

    Your article prompted me to think more about the usefulness of Twitch as a source of income for people who may not be able to participate in more traditional jobs. An increase in more accessible jobs for disabled people is becoming increasingly important as we see more awareness of the unique struggles disabled folk face. Platforms like Twitch can be life-changing for those who would otherwise be jobless. The idea of someone being paid to facilitate community among people with shared interests, who might otherwise be quite isolated is so great.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Silas,

      Thank you for your comment! I am the same as you I love partaking in Twitch communities and I have made some amazing friends from these communities all over the globe!

      The more I researched as well the more i really appreciated what Twitch communities can do for people with disabilities or people who cannot participate in traditional jobs, it can be a life changing platform for these people and a way they can reach out like never before.

      Thank you–


  3. Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for sharing your paper. I enjoyed learning more about the inclusive functions of Twitch. I didn’t know much about Twitch, but your article was informative and educational.

    Interestingly, a platform like Twitch can connect with communities by both identity and content choice. It seems like the visibility of these communities is a lot more transparent than other social media platforms and a huge step forward in the digitalization of our lives. You mention in your paper elements of performance by users when playing games on Twitter. Do you think this extends to the identity performance of users when interacting between account holders, or does the Twitch community allow people to be their authentic self? Because of the ability to access communities based on identity, I would think this function enables a more accepting place for an authentic self online.

    As you pointed out, the political use of a platform like Twitch is a real opportunity to open political discourse in the future. Mainstream media on the whole only offer filtered political views, those being 4 to 5 second sound bites on the evening news or chat shows. Twitch’s social elements seem to be breaking down the institutional norms of carefully coordinated town hall events. It could be a revolutionary method of people leading the conversation with a broader range of people having their voice heard.

    Well done on your paper. I found it really interesting.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Thank you for your comment!! I definitely believe Twitch does allow people to be their authentic self, but I also believe (especially with professional streamers) that it is also a performance as well. They can exaggerate parts of themselves for entertainment, but on the whole I think Twitch does show a more accurate representation of the authentic self as people generally cannot hide behide ‘filters’ like they can on platforms like instagram etc..

      Thank you!


  4. Hi Lily,

    Thank you for your comment! There was so much I wanted to include in this paper and struggled to convey everything I wanted within the space limit, as I have seen first hand the benefit these type of streaming services can provide for everyone.

    I definitely believe that interacting in the online world would encourage communication in the real world for those with communication struggles as I have seen first hand how services like Twitch and other social medias can bring people together and more into the open and has an uplifting effect. They feel more relaxed and accepted in communities like this. I myself am part of a discord community with over 10,000 members and interact with people daily from all walks of life, with different disabilities (both physical and mental) and from all over the globe.


  5. Hi Jessica,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your paper, especially since your discussion about people with physical and mental disabilities finding a place to thrive online really hit home with me as a deaf individual. It is really interesting to see just how social and supportive people can be online compared to physical face-to-face interactions when given the right conditions that they feel comfortable and at home in. I love that people with disabilities who may not be able to work and earn money in certain job fields in the real world can make a living through these streaming services while being social at the same time.

    In my paper I wanted to discuss the use of social media by deaf individuals to play video games such as Call of Duty together in an inclusive environment. However, I didn’t have to space to talk about it which I why I am glad to see this covered in a broader sense in your paper.

    This was a great read, to find out about the inclusivity of all walks of life, from people with anxiety to politicians and LGBTQIA+ people on streaming services. Do you think the freedom to communicate and socialise that people with communication struggles find online would encourage them or impact their communication in the real world?

    Heres a link to my paper, I don’t discuss streaming services per se but I do cover communication through social media (especially Facebook) as deaf people may struggle to communicate with hearing people in the real world.

    – Lily

    1. Hi Lily,

      Thank you for your comment! There was so much I wanted to include in this paper and struggled to convey everything I wanted within the space limit, as I have seen first hand the benefit these type of streaming services can provide for everyone.

      I definitely believe that interacting in the online world would encourage communication in the real world for those with communication struggles as I have seen first hand how services like Twitch and other social medias can bring people together and more into the open and has an uplifting effect. They feel more relaxed and accepted in communities like this. I myself am part of a discord community with over 10,000 members and interact with people daily from all walks of life, with different disabilities (both physical and mental) and from all over the globe.


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