I’ve been using my current Twitter account for over eight years. I had an account before that for about a year which I had to close because I was cyber stalked (another story, another time).
I’ve met some amazing people on Twitter. One fan girl crush evolved into a real life friendship and that person is now one of my closest friends and one of my favourite people in the world.
I’ve had the thrill of being followed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the day they tweeted to me that they loved my blog was wonderful.
I’ve had the ultimate lefty skin tingling thrill of being followed by John McDonnell (go comrade, go!) and lots of fantastic fellow party members.
I’ve had spirited exchanges of tweets, had friendly disagreements with fellow tweeters and learned a lot from what they knew or did not know.
I’ve challenged a lot of people for their extreme views when it came to poverty, people of colour and any other minority cause and I’ve been verbally abused for that. I’m a seasoned campaigner and I’ve volunteered at a seriously senior level so that’s gallons of water off a ducks back.
Recently I’ve become to tire of it. No longer is a place of amusement even though the people I follow are lovely. I’ve tried taking short breaks but people comment on a photo or a blog post and then I’m back into it before I know it.
Just lately I’ve been using it less and less and it’s become a burden rather than an enjoyable thing. It’s been great for sharing my photos and blog posts but it’s becoming a darker place and it’s making my head a darker place.
Over the past few years some (quite a lot!) genuinely innocuous questions have spawned abuse.
For example I asked what turned out to be a broadsheet columnist if a remark about mental health was in a private or professional capacity. I was curious and had no intention of exchanging further tweets with them. There was a long pause then a tirade of abuse about how he refused to compare illnesses with me. Then his followers jumped on me and they went on and on and on. He blocked me and I was left stunned by the irrationality and viciousness of what was a genuinely innocent question.
Today a curated accounted tweeted a photo of a pretentious diet by somebody or other. I tweeted that the only thing that wasn’t pretentious was the liquorice and ginger tea because I drank it. Then whoever it was began a series of increasingly bizarre tweets. I kept telling them I didn’t understand what they were saying to me – I really didn’t but still they kept on. Then the mob jumped on me – I was a nutter, I was aggressive, I was being unfair. I muted them in turn but they just kept on tweeting their aggression at me. One person suggested I eat less liquorice because it was bad for “the nerves” and even added a link to a shonky website. I blocked as fast as I could and ended up in tears.
I would not expect that kind of behaviour from people I met in a pub or a coffee shop or on the bus. I would walk away from that kind of behaviour in real life but not before telling them to lay off me. Nobody, either in the cyber world or in real life has the right to gang up on somebody because they’re disagree with a person or don’t understand what is being said.
Leaving Twitter has been coming for a long time and the lovely people are being hidden by the horrible people. Facebook doesn’t move as fast and you drown under the deluge of memes but generally it’s a friendlier place.
So this is it. I’m deleting my account on Thursday because it’s my birthday that day and I want to give myself a lovely gift. It will be a lovely gift.