One day in late March, I scanned my timeline, logged off for an hour, looked at it again, and said, “I don’t wanna do this anymore. It’s old.” I didn’t tweet for the first week afterwards, but it was difficult for me to do so. The urge waned over time, but the true test lied in whether I can hold off during the NBA playoffs since I’m terribly obsessed with basketball and Twitter is absolutely the best place to talk basketball and live events in general. What was the result? I sent exactly two tweets for the entire playoffs: one congratulating the Clippers on beating San Antonio (shoot me) and congratulating the Warriors on winning the title. Hardly even logged in. So that was that. I was done.
So how did I get to this point? Well, like breaking most addictions (yes, twitter can indeed be an addiction), the process was months in the making. In my tweeting “prime”, my main attraction was that I was really, really mean to strangers. Creatively mean, comedically mean, but mean to strangers nonetheless. I had a great time doing it at first. I was really good at it too. Whether it was a rapper, pro athlete, or random human on twitter, if I had any excuse to be mean to someone, then I just couldn’t resist. In return, people on twitter weren’t very fond of me. Some followed me just to chastise me or use my tweets as an excuse to go on an extended rant and gain followers and retweets and e-kudos and a whole bunch of other things that mattered way too much to me two years ago. But it didn’t bother me. Not yet, anyway.
I think the turning point between “this is fun” and “what the hell am I really doing here” was a tweet I sent to a former friend. We stopped being friends over tweets (I really took this stuff seriously) and after a series of barbs that I ignored over a few months, I finally caved in and tweeted the following: “If I was in the gym shooting free throws and someone told me that ____ died in a car accident, I would just keep shooting free throws.” It hurt her feelings. Really, really badly. I felt guilty enough to send an email apologizing for it. Didn’t matter. She hasn’t spoken to me since.
Being mean to strangers didn’t quite have the same appeal to me after that. I tried toning down being mean to people and changing my subject matter, and I noticed something disturbing. The bulk of the people that I interacted with over those years were overwhelmingly negative, and the further I got away from tweeting like that, the more I noticed that my timeline was completely enveloped in it. Rachel used to comment on the dickheads making fun of an unattractive girl or something similar, and my responses evolved from, “oh babe, they’re just having fun” to “yeah, that’s kinda messed up” to “these miserable fucks need to find something better to do.” And I was one of those miserable fucks for a very long time, whether that was my intention or not.
Besides that, I’ve been the recipient of a twitter avalanche due to something embarrassing. It’s not fun, and it’s certainly not something you should wish upon strangers. Some people like that stuff. They go by the “any press is good press” mantra and relish in strangers saying terrible things to and about them, since it’ll result in their follower count increasing. I am not one of those people. I finally got numb towards people saying bad things about me, but it’s still not something I enjoy seeing, and it got to the point where I was seeing it on a daily basis.
The other reason I don’t really tweet anymore is because I didn’t feel comfortable saying whatever I wanted anymore. I found myself having to soften my tone or rearranging words or eschewing topics altogether because I didn’t “want these yahoos in my mentions again.” And fuck that. Twitter isn’t fun when you have to censor yourself, and between avoiding angry strangers in my mentions and trying not to have Rachel in anyone’s crosshairs over me (because the worst of me comes out when people say bad things about her), I found that I was censoring myself entirely too much. I was basically a shell of my former twitter self, just going through the motions until I either turned over 85% of my timeline or stopped tweeting completely. I chose the latter, and I think I’m better for it. There’s no way I’d be doing well in school or reading as much as I do or even writing this unless I unplugged from the Twitter matrix.
Mind you, twitter isn’t inherently bad. There are plenty of brilliant people on that site who use it to do really positive, groundbreaking things and connect with other likeminded people to improve society 140 characters at a time. My twitter experience would have been totally different had I started off that way. Your timeline is what you make it, and I was unfortunate enough to fill my timeline with garbage. And you know what? It was because I was garbage. I fit right in. I still have my fair share of flaws, but I’m actively trying to improve upon them, and having garbage all around me isn’t conducive to that happening.
I think I’ll come back to twitter eventually. I kept my username (@shawnintheflesh) active for a reason. I’ll spend half a day purging every single negative human from my feed and making sure that no new garbage invades my timeline. Until then, I’ll be here, starting from nothing, trying to get to 100 followers again.
Everyone is entitled to a fresh start. I like this better already.