By Nadine van den Bosch

An avid gamer, Valentina Gal (1994) is all too familiar with the customs of online communities. On platforms such as Twitch or Reddit, she researches online subcultures like the furry fandom, cosplayers and the world of Vtubers (Virtual YouTubers). The internet offers a relatively safe space for those who want to express themselves, and at the same time provides a low threshold for others to express criticism.

The avatar is a central element in this balancing act of online freedom and critique. A live filter allows streamers to modify their appearance in such a way that they are anonymous and at the same time have a unique hybrid digital personality.