When the script wears thin
Trying something new
I don’t want to write about the collapse of Twitter, mostly because everyone is writing about the collapse of Twitter. Anything I might say has already been said by people smarter than me. Instead, I want to write about the relief I felt upon realizing Twitter was done for.
I’ve been in an on-again-off-again relationship with the bird site for years. The writing community is especially prevalent on the platform, so I felt that, as an aspiring author, I should really get good at it. But I could never seem to make it work. I would try for a while, only to give up, citing burnout that was probably more anxiety than anything. So when Twitter imploded, I was giddy. Finally a reason to quit! I no longer had to beat myself up for struggling with something that everyone else seemed to excel at!
The first few days were glorious. But the more I thought about the future of social media as a writer aspiring to traditional publishing, the more I realized that Twitter wasn’t my problem. Not really, anyway. Twitter was simply the manifestation of something I'd been wrestling for most of my life.
I’ve never played dodgeball. But I’ve always identified with the metaphor of never getting chosen for the dodgeball team. In a way, that’s what Twitter is to me — sitting on the sidelines as your classmates pair up, one after another, until you’re the only one left.
This sounds like an angsty jeremiad on adolescent cliques, but it’s not. I’ve met wonderful people on Twitter. My best friend has benefited tremendously from professional networking, something that otherwise wouldn’t be possible due to the severity of her disease. Twitter — and platforms like it — have revolutionized how modern humans cultivate community.
Our instinct to gather in groups isn’t inherently bad. But Twitter represents a wound for me.
It’s a tale old as time. A story I’ve told myself over and over again — that I won’t be chosen, that I will spend all of gym period waiting for someone to look me in the eye and say, “I want her.” It’s a pattern I’ve been reliving since birth, a script I started running the moment I realized that my body came with unexpected handicaps. My disability means I’m unlovable? Fine, I’ll just try harder. I’ll bend myself so out of shape that you won’t even recognize me, and then I’ll be good enough, then I’ll be free.
Twitter isn’t always that deep. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a beloved mutual rating the fuckability of a side character by “Our Flag Means Death” episodes. But the more distance I put between me and the bird site, the more I realize it is, in fact, that deep — at least for me. If Twitter is a dodgeball game full of sweaty teenagers, I am sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be chosen, to be given worth through the act of being seen.
The writing community is moving to Hive. I’m happy for my friends with a large Twitter presence who were dreading the thought of Instagram. And, if I’m being honest, I’m looking forward to a fresh start — there’s nothing quite like a new platform to make you feel like anything’s possible. But I’m trying to be intentional this time. Trying to imagine what it would be like to unravel the tapestry I've been weaving for years.
What if social media didn’t trigger my oldest wound?
What if I divested from the myth of scarcity?
What if I chose to believe that posting on social media — in whatever capacity I am capable of — is not only an act of magic but an opportunity to practice something bigger than myself? To trust that people will come to me when they are supposed to. To trust that I am worthy even when no one sees me. Perhaps even to dare to believe that people see me when the algorithm says they don’t.
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