Six months ago, I gave up on Facebook. I’d signed up to it originally to share photos and news with my farflung cousins and family. I’d added friends from school and wives of my husband’s friends. Nobody I hadn’t met in person. Then I added some who shared my chronic illnesses, first Fibromyalgia and then Ehlers Danlos.
When my son was diagnosed autistic and I realised I may be too, I created a second account, to connect with others without ‘outing’ myself to my extended family and those who went to school with me. Through this account I found and connected with numerous autistic people, including many advocates.
That all went well, until one day I rubbed someone the wrong way. I had offended them without realising it. I had made what I thought was an innocuous statement about my own personal circumstance. Turned out this was a ‘final straw’ and this person then messaged me with a litany of offences I had committed. Again, I had been oblivious that I had said anything controversial or offensive. Hurt by what I saw as an attack, and hating conflict of any kind, I fled from Facebook.
But, still seeking connection with others like me, I joined Twitter. I liked Twitter. Short statements suit me. My followers grew. I’ve no idea how or why, I certainly wasn’t expecting to have more than a handful of followers.
But then I noticed how one badly worded tweet by someone could have dire circumstances. I made mistakes, forgot to add TWs. And seemed to get away with it. I got a little bit of hassle from racists and ABA-defenders and autistics who don’t believe in self-diagnosis. But overall I wasn’t hassled too much.
Nevertheless I found myself agonising over every word. Would this tweet, this phrase, cause offence. Does it need a TW? A CN? What’s the difference between those terms anyway? I kept writing and then deleting tweets. Getting more and more anxious. And spending more and more time each day thinking about it. Yes, it’s good to be mindful of the language we use. Yes, I would never use words I knew were offensive. But I’m only human and can’t think of every connotation of every word I use. And trying to do so was effecting my mental health.
And so, I’m taking a step back from Twitter. I’ve deleted the app on my phone and have limited daytime access to my iPad. So, I plan on doing a lot less tweeting. And sticking to what I hope are innocuous tweets that can’t possibly cause offence. I hope.
Because, I hate hurting people, I hate conflict, I hate drama. Those things cause me to run a mile. I hate seeing people I follow squabbling. I hate seeing them hurt. I have too much empathy. And it’s getting me down.
So, like a snail, I’m going to withdraw into my shell for the winter. Poke my head out for the odd tweet, but concentrate on my blog for now.
I know you’ll all understand!
[image of a page from a children’s colouring book with a description and picture of a Garden Snail.]