For some people, the media is a source of information. But for Nyx McLean it’s much more than that. “I believe that media is a tool, and we can use it effectively to bring about change by connecting with individuals through the stories we share,” says the 28-year-old, who is currently a doctoral candidate in the field of internet studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
“There is nothing more powerful than generating shared meaning through a story – especially for those who may feel disconnected, and then find themselves faced with another’s story, and connecting through it.”
Until recently McLean was the national manager of print and digital at the New loveLife Trust, where she headed the team responsible for all digital projects supporting loveLife’s Aids prevention, education and social behaviour change work.
She was also one of the country researchers for the first phase of the EROTICS project that investigated the use of the internet by transgender and lesbian South Africans. She continues to be involved in it, recently participating in a global meeting in Malaysia on gender, sexuality and the internet.
“That space revived in me the need to continue my research in this field and to contribute my knowledge and understanding of digital platforms to groups that work specifically with gender, sexuality and sexual rights,” she says, explaining her decision to resign from her position at loveLife in favour of concentrating on her doctoral studies.
McLean says she enjoys her work as a researcher and contributor to digital spaces and how they can be used more effectively for social change.
“There is no real word for what I do – to a degree I balance the spaces of academia, research, advocacy and civil society. I could argue that I work in a space called digital for development, but it’s more than that.” — Fatima Asmal