I love Twitter. I hate Twitter. I have a heavy-duty Love/Hate relationship with Twitter. I’ve nuked my account there at least three times. The last time I did it (I think sometime in 2019?) I was at about 4k followers. That’s not an humblebrag, that’s a HORROR SHOW. I was flooded with notifications, drowning in them. And I’d say provocative things I felt passionate about in any given moment (and I’m mercurial as hell so that changed often), and then the arrows would come flying.
I wish I could boo hoo cry victim, but hey, as they say: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
I’d let Twitter determine my mood in any given hour or day. I was addicted, enslaved. I wanted people to like me, then I didn’t care if they did. I did, however, feel hurt when someone called me names or harassed me (which happened a lot once my follower count kept rising). But again, “play stupid games, yadda yadda yadda.” – so if I felt victimized, that was all on ME.
Still, it messed with my head so much, and then I hit some pretty dark and heavy times in my “real life,” and it was all just too much. I kept hanging on, because I have made some rock-solid, true friendships there. People sometimes don’t believe that’s possible, but it really is. People I talked to every day, people I’d chat on the phone with regularly, people who got to know the real me, people I trusted, and vice versa.
I always knew that if I nuked Twitter, I’d rarely connect with them, because even though most I do talk to on the phone sometimes, it couldn’t come close to the daily back and forth, the DMs where we’d gather and joke around and share our lives with each other and share funny memes and just let our hair down.
And I could not break those bonds. I needed these dear people.
But one day, last year, I broke. I snapped. I said something stupid I’m sure (I can’t remember what set me off that final time), I got my feelings hurt one time too many, couldn’t handle the heat on top of the hellscape of my life at that time, and I in a fit of angst said “FUCK IT, FUCK THIS SHIT TO HELL” – and deleted my account. Bye bye 4k folowers. I didn’t know 99 percent of them anyway. The tiny group of people I’d bonded with through the years (I joined first back in 2014 I think) and traded jokes with (not just the DM close friends, but more casual ones that still made my day) – I had to say goodbye to – but I probably didn’t even do that.
The thought of making some dramatic “Goodbye, cruel world” tweet was flat out awful to me. I would be mortified forever if I pulled something like that. I had to choose between my dignity and acting like a whiny victim, and I chose dignity.
It was hard quitting cold turkey. But surprisingly, not as hard as I thought. As the weeks went by I started rarely even thinking about Twitter. Which if you knew how hooked to it I was would surprise you.
I still spoke on the phone with the close friends, but it was very rare at that point. Not because I didn’t adore them and care about them deeply, but because when I retreat from the world, I go dark. I mean I retreat into my cave of isolation and I stay there. I’ve never needed the company of a bunch of people ever in my life. I of course need connection: my husband, my kids, etc. But socializing? No thank you. Nope nope nope.
In dark times, and it was indeed a bleakly dark time of my life, I don’t want to talk to anybody. It doesn’t help me, it’s painful. I have nothing at all to say, I can’t bear to listen, I just curl up into a ball of misery and have to just white-knuckle through it.
Eventually the sun comes back out. And it did. And I found myself missing my small group of friends so desperately it was a physical feeling of hurt. I HAD to go back. But I made myself a promise: it would be a very low-key, anonymous account only to connect with them. And to maybe post some pet pictures and funny stuff.
I missed other people I used to hang with a lot, so I started telling a select few people I was back. I didn’t want the amount of followers I’d had – in fact the idea of that makes me break out in panicked hives – but I wanted the people I truly liked, enjoyed and respected back in my Twitter Universe, so to speak.
If I’d left it at that it would be fine. But of course I didn’t leave it at that. I haven’t watched cable news since 2016, I kept myself totally ignorant about politics and any bad stuff happening in the world – I kept myself in a protective bubble for a long time. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. But what I did was, I started seeing the trending topics, seeing the usual suspects being complete a-holes, really awful news, etc. and I broke my promise to myself: I stopped posting my pet pics and silly memes and started popping off about current events.
I started saying and retweeting provacative “screw these people that disagree with me” type things. Granted, I have just a handful of followers, so it’s like screaming into the void (which is good), but still, what does this accomplish besides making myself downright miserable?
I don’t like being that person. I know many, many people who can go to the mat with others about cultural divides, the political hellscape we’re in, horrific news etc. and yet they keep their humanity, they keep their sense of humor, they don’t let it invade their personal lives and spaces, they don’t let it ruin their days, weeks, lives. I can respect that.
Unfortunately, I am utterly incapable of doing the same. I don’t get mildly irritated, I find myself enraged. I don’t get sad, I find myself devastated. I don’t get merely bothered a moment about a mean comment, it hurts me deeply – then I respond in my own barbed way, and that makes it all even worse.
Suffice to say, that kind of Twitter is way too dangerous for me, for my emotional well-being.
That said, I will not nuke my account again. I am not tapping out, giving up something that does bring me such joy when I let it. When I use it to connect with people I really like, with friends I deeply care about, when I focus on the funny, the silly, the lighthearted, the heartwarming, the tomfoolery sides.
Because it was making me miserable again (or, letting myself get caught up in the negative and making MYSELF miserable again), I’m hitting a reset button, a clean slate. I want so badly to keep myself in an emotionally healthy place while on there. I really do love Twitter, when I do it right. I’m so envious of people that can just laugh at the bad sides and not take it seriously, the people who can debate without getting emotionally upset about it.
But it’s time for me to accept, and I mean really accept, not just on a superficial “yeah, yeah” level – that I’m not like that. I’m overly sensitive (which isn’t always a bad thing, I like the fact that I’m very sensitive to the feelings of others – I mean when I’m not being bitchy on Twitter – but then when I am I feel instant guilt, so…). Point is, emotionally fragile people shouldn’t go into the deep end of the Twitter pool. They can’t handle it. I can’t handle it.
That’s okay. It really is.
I’m going to try my best to keep my promise to myself this time around – without having to nuke my account, that is. I want to stay in the fun kiddie pool part of Twitter and not get in over my head. So instead of nuking, I went to TweetDelete and wiped out all my tweets (or most, I think).
I did not do this to hide anything. I fully admit I’ve been a really awful person on Twitter. I have also been nice, and funny, and I’ve had really good exchanges and have shared a lot of good stuff. But the fact is, that awful side kept popping up, more and more and more. And that kind of thing poisons the well in my mind. It makes me feel guilty and like a shit person, even though I know in my heart I’m really not (besides the typical shitty person inside of all of us that sometimes comes out, we’re only human).
Also want to add that this is not some self-righteous creed against people who DO get into the deep end, or about people who get right in the mud, in the thick of it, who pour out a lot of really intelligent takes while slaying dumbassery with their intelligence. I can grab the popcorn and enjoy that sometimes. I don’t judge that, I think those people are passionate about their beliefs, and I respect the hell out of that.
But for me, I have to accept that it’s time to go back to square one and start over, this time WITHOUT nuking my account. The part of Twitter I really do love is worth keeping, worth preserving, to me at least.
Am I a little embarrassed I just deleted all my tweets? Yeah, I admit I am. I feel self-conscious about it, like “oh God people will think…” – but I’ll get over that within about an hour, tops. Fact is, people think that others think about them far more often than they really do. Which is in fact hardly ever. Nobody cares if you delete your tweets. People are not built to care about the minutiae of others’ lives like that, especially online. It’s just not a thing.
But I care about my own behavior even if no one else even notices. I notice, and that’s enough.
Okay, I think all my tweets are gone. Time to go have some FUN on Twitter and look at Crow pictures and funny memes!
Goodbye and good riddance!