Social Media and the Socially Anxious: Why I Left Twitter
I’ve always had a hard time with negative feedback. Whether it’s an comment from someone in the grocery store about how I look like I’m expecting twins, a remark from a relative about what I’m wearing or any perceived judgment about my choice in career or how I’m raising my child or how I wear my hair, I feel it more more deeply than I should. I always have. I never really knew why. I remember when I started here, my first two weeks of posts, you guys hated me. The comments were overwhelmingly negative, probably because I was, as I’d be told frequently over the first couple years, ruining the site with my celebrity garbage, something I joke about but will now admit that it sucked to hear that, too. I wish I didn’t care. But I do. I always have.
There is a type of person who wants to give off the impression that what others think doesn’t matter, that they are going to live their lives and be themselves and if others don’t like it, off they can fuck. Meanwhile, this person is actually cripplingly obsessed with what people think of them and every single negative or mean comment both fuels and destroys different parts of them. We call these people writers.
Famous people leave Twitter all the time. Miley Cyrus, Joss Whedon, my sweet sweet Jaden Smith, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Damon Lindelof, they are wholly unique and separate individuals but they all decided the overwhelming loudness of Twitter wasn’t for them, at least temporarily. They are mocked by those who point out that others have it far worse and these millionaires don’t know the half of it, or who see something as vapid as social media taking any kind of toll on you as making monstrously weak. And it might be true. It feels true. Because these constant comments, these endless slams, you feel yourself weakening. And it sucks.
I never experienced the level of hate hurled at a lot of other people on Twitter. I never had death threats (though I’ve certainly received my occasional “you should kill yourself”) and only one or two rape threats, which is the most macabrely positive thing I’ve ever said (only one or two! The internet isn’t *that* awful! *hysterical sob*) But there’s a distinct pain to feeling your whole life like you’re not good enough, going into a career where you’re constantly wondering if you’re good enough, then a hundred or more people on social media tell you that you are not in fact good enough. Even high school wasn’t that bad.
Here’s a secret about creative types: very few of us think we’re any good at what we do. We’re weak people, plagued by insecurity, who are desperate for validation. And sometimes we get it. I’ve gotten so many wonderful comments and emails and tweets from massively supportive wonderful people. How the shitty ones are so much louder, I’ll never know.
This isn’t a cry to be kind, or to spew some cliche about how we’re all human and all fighting a different battle and give peace a chance and when there was one footprint that was me carrying you or anything like that. This is a weird world now. A weird, new world none of us really know how to deal with. We can accept our new troll overlords and deal with them, or, like I did, we can run and hide because it’s just too much. I’m definitely embarrassed by the one I went with. But I’m also better off. At least for now.
The internet is hard. I don’t know how to fix it. I just know it’s getting harder. And I don’t know if it’s me or them. Or who will win.
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