How a live streaming platform helped its users forge friendships amid the pandemic
With COVID-19 stay-at-home orders in place through 2020, making new connections has never been more difficult. One method that has helped people from all around the globe to stay in touch and create new friendships has been through a platform called Twitch.
Twitch is the largest live streaming platform in the world that is most notably known for the idea that anyone can connect and broadcast what they please (as long as it follows Twitch’s terms of service, of course).
From an outside perspective, Twitch is just a bunch of people playing video games. It isn’t until you experience it first hand that you begin to realize that it is so much more than that.
“Twitch has essentially become a huge social network … at the end of the day, if you like games, books, movies, shows or a certain hobby, there’s a place for that. You can share the love with someone else who may feel the same,” said Albert Lucero, a Twitch streamer that is based in Los Angeles.
In 2020, Lucero went live all 365 days of the year. His goal on Twitch is to build friendships and a community that has each other’s backs. He views streaming as a way to support individuals. Not only is it a way to support others, it also played a very positive role in his own life.
“Twitch has given me an incredible opportunity during the stay at home order; there wasn’t a day where I didn’t feel alone,” Lucero explained. “It was quite honestly an overwhelming and eye-opening experience to see day in and day out people drop in. I got to understand what others were going through in various parts of the world.”
While entertainment is the advertised goal, the real advantage to the platform is the connections that users have the ability to make. Twitch brings together an average of 15 million unique viewers a day, according to Business of Apps.
These viewers come for a variety of reasons. Yes, some of these users are only logging in for a bit of entertainment. However, many of them are coming back for a friendship that has been created over time.
Joseph Vitale, 23-year-old Los Positas College student from the Bay Area, frequently visits the popular live streaming platform.
“There is a certain bond people make through Twitch,” Vitale said. “Just like you make bonds through sports or anything else, Twitch has created another avenue [for individuals] to make connections with cool people.”
Stay-at-home orders took away the necessary human connection that people crave so badly. Without face to face interaction or the ability to to go out, people were stuck indoors with the endless desire to meet others. Twitch was able to fill that void for individuals like Vitale who used the platform while being cooped up at home.
“Twitch became a new place for entertainment for me,” Vitale said. “It also made me feel less alone. Watching a streamer with 30,000 people at the same time or even a small stream with 3 people interacting made me feel like I wasn’t locked in a house 24/7.”
Vitale was so inspired after watching months of Twitch that he plans on starting his own stream as well. He said he strives to give back what he got out of Twitch and just wants to put a smile on peoples faces.
Aryan Chauhan, a high school senior in the Seattle area, has spent quite a bit of time on Twitch this year both viewing and streaming. He explained that the platform gave him opportunities that he would not have had anywhere else.
“I’m a very socially awkward person, so making as many strong friendships as I have through Twitch would be next to impossible for me in real life,” Chauhan said.
Chauhan explained that he has forged friendships on the platform that are not only meaningful, but will undoubtedly be long-lasting.
During the stay at home orders, there has been a real push for mental health awareness on Twitch. Many people began to use their platforms to bring awareness to this widespread issue. There are plenty of channels dedicated to exploring these issues, but what it really comes down to is the small creators that have established tight-knit groups on the platform.
“I think Twitch has been vital in the pandemic. Without Twitch, I don’t know where a lot of people would be from a mental health standpoint. I have personally heard stories that Twitch has saved people from suicide and has given life back to people that need to hear some positivity,” said Colton Carpenter, a medical personnel driver and avid Twitch viewer.
Twitch is an ever changing platform. It may have started as a place where users could live stream video games, but it has grown into a platform where like-minded people can share their passions, build communities with positive influences and, most importantly, support each other.