Ah, Twitter: home of hilarious memes, awe inspiring threads, ‘open for a surprise’ doggo pics, and words of solidarity, friendship, instantaneous news and access to the most riveting stories, funny jokes, blasts from the past and everyone’s favourite bloggers (ahem).
But… is it actually a nice place?
Really horrible things, directly at or affecting people from all walks of life are said 24/7 on Twitter. In the words of Michael Jackson (probably a good thing he was never on Twitter tbh) someone always seems to want to be starting something. Except nobody ever seems to finish it.
Day in day out there’s more and more hatred exchanged. It’s rare to see a polite exchange of different viewpoints, and Twitter users are quick to take sides a la Lord of the Flies and weigh in on issues and non issues alike.
Every day someone new is in the firing line, or firing the shots. The Vegans. The Trans Sportswomen. White Feminism. Jews in the Labour Party. The other Jews in the Labour Party. Fat shaming. Brexit. She was asking for it. But when is International Mens Day? Grooming gangs. Snowflakes. Libtards. MAGA. “Nobody can take a joke anymore”. Lefties. Gammon. DHOTYA. Are you offended? What do you identify as? #Triggered
On a smaller scale I have a love/hate relationship with it. Over the years I’ve been patronised, sworn at, been on the receiving end of inane insults from strangers for daring to assert an opinion or disagree with some form of wrong (usually racism or sexism, being pissed off with rape apologists, victim blaming etc etc – the list is endless and I hardly even get involved in arguments that often so it’s really only scratching the surface) and more.
I’ve been on the receiving end of subtweets, talked about behind my back (despite being a relatively boring person), people adding conjecture to fact and coming out with their own version of events – some more accurate than others – fuelled entirely by spite and presumably boredom.
I can’t imagine what goes through people’s heads to make them so vitriolic to people they have never met and have never done them anything, and yet every day all sorts of people find it a perfectly acceptable use of their time to do everything they can to distress someone else.
The things I read other people saying to others makes uncomfortable reading even as an onlooker; I can’t begin to fathom how someone takes it in their stride when they’re on the receiving end of such comments. It also irks me that the onus is put on the recipients of these comments to develop a thick skin, and an assumption that “being sensitive” – despite being a perfectly normal and actually very healthy character trait – is bandied about like an insult. And we wonder why so many people live in misery and (especially men and boys) feel compelled to end their lives without sufficient outlet for their feelings or compassion for their needs.
To ditch or not to ditch?
Many times I’ve thought about getting rid of Twitter; not a day goes by that I’m not exposing myself to idiots and nastiness. If not to me (as I try, but sometimes fail, to avoid confrontation) then to others around me. Sometimes unable to stop myself putting my two penn’orth in as well and then kicking myself when I attract a flurry of bullshit in my mentions. I struggle to find any redeeming aspects of the platform and often think it would be better for my mental health if I swerved it completely.
Then I think to myself it’s hard to have a blog with just a presence on Instagram. I’ve already made a decision not to pursue Facebook (I’m so out of the loop on there after so long away that it just seems too expansive and impersonal). Maybe I need twitter, at least to tweet links to my new blog post. Maybe if Instagram allowed accounts with fewer than 10k followers to include links to their websites in its Stories then I could rely on that for a bit of traffic. But mine is a small blog and I still benefit from the small drips that Twitter provides for me.
Glimmer of hope
So just when I was at a low ebb with Twitter a thought popped up on my timeline and this was it:
It’s this sentiment that has made me decide to stay on Twitter a bit longer; to look out for the good stuff. The funny stuff, the uplifting stuff, the interesting stuff. And to make an effort to swerve the ugly, bitter, stupid stuff.
Now I just need to see what I can bring to the table to make Twitter a nicer place. I can’t say that jokes are my strong suit but I hope I’ll have the balls to post some stories on there; which, after all, probably takes more courage than tweeting shit to strangers.
So bring your best one liners and your favourite anecdotes, claims to fame, heart warming tales and meet at @BellaRaeBartley and I promise not to try and ruin your life.