Recently I decided to resort to drastic measures and erase my presence on Twitter. Some wouldn’t even dream of doing that but myself, I was tired. Tired of it all.
When I clicked the deactivate icon and when the notification came up confirming it I straight away felt free. It felt almost empowering. No longer am I a slave to social media who checks their Twitter profile at any given opportunity.
Initially in my early days on Twitter it seemed like a supportive place to be. I was (and still am) the type of guy who doesn’t have many friends. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say I was lonely and still coping from depression. I had some friends but they were pretty distant. Facebook was an extremely cliquey place where you have to know people to know people. Twitter felt like an open party. Where anyone is free to come and socialise. You didn’t need to initially be part of a clique of any sort to connect with people. Initially I just remember a newsfeed with mostly positive and empowering posts.
Eventually though as time went by I would scroll down everyday and every few hours just to feel negative vibes (well there would be cute dogs and cats but who doesn’t love cute animals?). Regardless of how far I would scroll there was always some argument happening. There was always some beef happening. Always some vicious online argument regarding race and gender.
Regardless of how disgusted I was how vicious people were in their arguments with other users and how nasty and personal they eventually got I couldn’t help getting out the popcorn and getting invested in the discussion and quoting statements and joining in and getting some of the hate. I was like an addict.
Twitter is like porn but porn isn’t constantly bugging you while you’re out and about. Even when you’re away you’re reminded by Twitter that you should be engaging. You could be just sat in a cafe or on a train or on the toilet taking a shit and your phone could be constantly chiming as though it was telling you to continue engaging in these ‘discussions’.
“Why are you away? You should continue sucking in all the negative vibes from this asshole in some shithole in the US”
Stupidly there would always be the urge to get involved and post up my two cents. There was a need for me to get attention. I wanted to be part of the group of ‘amazing woke people’. I wanted to be a part of the clique and receive approval (in the form of woke points usually).
A lot of times you would get ignored by these people you ‘follow’ while they respond to all of their mates and people you think are ‘cooler’ than you and it would be frustrating. Thats the minute I realised that it wasn’t the open party i thought. It triggered my feelings of loneliness and sadness. I all of a sudden I felt as though I didn’t matter. You look at their profiles and you realise they are beautiful, they have a great life… you start to think they are better than you.
Anyway, sometimes you would get a response from people. This means I was involved in the discussion. I would receive some positive attention in the form of likes and positive replies, but some others didn’t like what I had to say. I was constantly getting negative reply after negative reply. Extremely vicious ones are often traded when race comes into the discussion. Replies really attempting to get under my skin (such as question my blackness or make me feel as though I’m a disgusting human being).
It’s funny feeling when you say something that Twitter isn’t exactly feeling (always unintentional) and you aren’t Mr/Ms popular. You will get absolutely mobbed with negative comments regardless of trying to understand where the other person is coming from. It makes you hate yourself. If you realise you were in the wrong (if you was) you can apologise and learn but the negativity and hate just keeps coming. You say to yourself – “this is just the internet”, but at the same time you’re desperately trying to prove to yourself that you aren’t a shitty human being and forever fated to be a shitty human being. You desperately want to be assured that you are a good person like Bojack Horseman. You desperately want to each that status of a ‘woke’ king/queen.
As said: “Twitter is a megaphone for achievements and a magnifying glass for insecurities, and when you start comparing your insecurities with another person’s achievements, it’s a recipe for anxiety”
Twitter in my opinion has reached a point where it is counterproductive to progress. Why? People on there (like i was) I feel are too busy arguing amongst themselves in their own spaces and gaining likes/approval from their online cliques who will lap up anything that they say whilst being stuck in a cycle of anxiety. Every situation deserves all the energy people have got. People also do not choose their targets wisely. Problem with this is that it’s tiring.
You do gain a sense of camaraderie as there are some great users on there posting interesting stuff, but I’m tired of quantifying my worth with all the retweets, likes and all of that crap. It makes me feel down. I’m not happy.
The hostile environment and the unpredictability the environment all means everyone is ready for combat with the boxing gloves on ready to engage in attack or defence. Nobody wants to put the katana down. Nobody wants to walk away. Nobody wants to admit mistakes because everyone is aware how ruthless social media is. Nobody wants to go to the table and discuss things in a civilised manner and if there are assholes who truly need to be punished on the site twitter doesn’t step in and moderate.
From academics to professional journalists, online activists, musicians, gamers… everyone is running into battle with a katana in hand the minute someone says something that isn’t ‘acceptable’. People are almost encouraged to be assholes. This seems to have gotten worse from my point of view in a world where populist movements are on the increase and a world where Trump (an orange reality TV star) is our president.
At the same time though everyone is scared of being rejected from a circle. We all want approval and seek ‘likes’. Importance was placed on the opinions of people who in real life contribute nothing to my life.
It’s a space where ‘woke’ points are the main currency (especially amongst political circles). Everyone wants them and the popularity and approval that comes with them. Everyone wants to be popular kid, everyone wants to be a personality, everyone wants to be seen as important… actually saying that, Twitter has become a place that resembles the playground I remember from secondary school. Always some beef happening, arguments, gossip, emotionally charged statements, plenty of cliques… it’s like Recess.
Normal Jack and Jill who might or might not be dicks in real life turn into frothing at the mouth assholes who act like they have nothing to learn and are an authority on whatever political topic they are talking about. These are people on all political sides of the spectrum. It isn’t just confined to the left or the right.
Shit… Twitter is like a reality TV show.
…does most of that bullshit on Twitter have an effect on society outside of the playground? Not really. Does all of it benefit me long term other than being able to in future identify negative behaviour? Not really.
I put my middle finger up to Twitter now. I feel as though I’m past Twitter now. I don’t need approval from the toxic people hanging around the site and i don’t need it in my life.
I don’t feel the pressure anymore to pretend like some perfect human being. Like I’m ‘woke’ or some shit. Like some holier than thou being. At the end of the day I’m a human being that makes mistakes, but what is important if we’re willing to learn from our mistakes. We aren’t all flawless “kings and queens”. I don’t feel l the need to prove my blackness or act in a way people think black people should act.
Do I still feel loneliness? Yeah. Do I still feel isolated? Yes. Twitter isn’t there anymore to exacerbate those feelings though. I have less distractions. I’m happy people watching in a cafe without the distraction of Twitter. I can concentrate in the gym, concentrate on my university work, focus on music, go to see a movie and come to my own conclusions. If i want access to other opinions i can get them whenever I want from other sources outside of the social media circus.
Do we need to discuss issues like race and gender more, challenge white supremacy and condemn regressive politics that have a negative effect on society? Definitely.
Do we need to challenge and condemn homophobia, transphobia, bigotry against Muslims, Jewish people, etc…? Yes, definitely.
Twitter just doesn’t seem like a great platform for all of that though. Twitter in my opinion has become an awful place to be. it causes a vicious cycle of anxiety. I doubt i will be missing much. I will no doubt receive important news when it comes so I shouldn’t worry about ‘missing out’.
Well… that was therapeutic.