Back in June I started to notice something every time I logged onto Twitter: it made me feel terrible.
I would scroll, I would watch, and I would feel so so lost.
But I am a blogger. I am a writer. I am expected to “build my brand” as an online presence. I need a “platform.” I need to be conscious of my accessibility, my persona, and my level of likability. I’m supposed to gain copious followers. I’m supposed to prove my popularity by my retweets, my likes, my finger on the pulse of the youth. There is so much potential with social media. And I’m the first to acknowledge that it’s done wonders for our ability to share, engage, and help move important causes forward (as well as the all-important abundance of cat videos).
This year has felt rough though, as far as what is going on in the world. While every year, in the history of years, has it’s collections of tragedies, injustices, disasters, and sadness, I’ve felt the weight of 2016 a little more acutely for some reason. I’m not sure why.
It was around the time of the shooting in Orlando, or yet another innocent black citizen being shot by police, or people in my country rallying behind one of the most repulsive voices of hate I’ve ever seen, or the bombing in the Istanbul airport, when I just couldn’t bring myself to log onto Twitter. I couldn’t.
I would see people sharing the phrase “Remaining silent in the face of injustice is the same as supporting it” and I’d feel breathless with guilt.
Because here’s the thing:
I wasn’t speaking out about all these situations that upset me, that made me sick to my stomach, that left me awake with heartache at night.
And if I did? I would be crushed under the weight of the rhetoric and goals of my Twitter.
Maybe I am overthinking all of this, maybe I am “too sensitive” as people have labeled me throughout my life, but for now I don’t care. I need space to breathe. Am I outraged and saddened by things I see out in the world? For fuck’s sake of course I am. Am I personally person choosing Twitter or Facebook as a platform to express these emotions? No. And sometimes this makes me feel like I’m being a shitty human.
I made an offhand comment to a fellow writer the other day about how I was taking a break from Facebook and Twitter and she nodded in understanding. “Do what you need to do to protect yourself,” she said. “Sensitive hearts need to practice boundaries.” It surprised me how nice it was to hear her say this.
I’d been feeling like a failure for not enjoying the social media world. I’d sit there watching literally hundreds of people sharing, connecting, chatting, being witty, being creative, being fearless, and seemingly finding it so easy. Why do I sometimes find it so hard?
I know a lot of you are part of this online community, building followers and hoping to reach higher forms of connection using the online tools at your disposal. How do you keep your sanity? How do you preserve your sense of privacy while staying open and engaged? I’m really asking.