In my time on twitter during early October, an anonymous account responded to a photo of my six-year-old daughter by calling her a bitch and a cunt, adding “I hope nothing bad happens to her.” Despite multiple reports, the account was not banned. When I responded to the first wave of accounts of Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes by saying I felt special solidarity with Asia Argento as a fellow horror person (to get very specific, Troma Studios distributed her film The Stendahl Syndrome the summer I interned for them), a handful of accounts opted to interpret this as me saying I didn’t care about other victims. A similar thing happened when I expressed horror about the climate of fear Weinstein must have established if figures as powerful as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow still felt unable to speak out; I was told I only cared when it happened to powerful people, while on the flip side I also received many responses saying they were cowards at best and complicit at worst for not speaking out. Such responses continued even after I said that I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse myself, and my responses were shaped by that shared experience. Effectively, I was told I was being a victim wrong, an experience that triggered traumatic memories of the abuse itself that cost me two solid days of work. This had never happened to me before. Finally, anime Nazis, who’ve dogged me on and off since G*merG8te and flared up during pile-ons orchestrated by right-wing media figures after comments I made about Trump’s election and inauguration and the health-care debacle, told me they were glad I was sexually abused as a childhood, because I deserved it.

After that I decided to drastically curtail my use of the site. I’ve limited my interactions, I’ve tweeted almost but not quite completely just to promote my own work and that of friends and heroes of mine, and I’ve cut back really hard on reading time, favoriting, retweeting, replying, and so on. While I’m still on there more than many people who’ve simply established a less extreme usage pattern and are continuing as normal, for me it represents a radical reduction.  It’s improved my life for sure, but that’s not the point of this post.

The point is this: After that final incident spurred me to start detaching myself from Twitter, I realized that I’d fallen victim to its business model, which is nothing more or less than to (theoretically) profit from inducing me and everyone else to write up as many of our thoughts and feelings as possible, without pay, on a website where racist fascists up to and including literal Nazis and the President of the United States of America can and do attack other users and spread their filth with impunity. I can’t think of any real-life circumstance where I would voluntarily subject myself to that kind of labor exploitation and emotional abuse. I’m going to start applying that standard to what I do online, and to where I do it.

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One Response to Twitter

  1. Ken says:

    I hear you. Not alone. Yes politically might be on complete opposite end of spectrum but you matter. Your past matters. #metoo as a movement matters. Thank you for being willing to share. Looking forward to a day (probably soon) when Twitter is a MySpace.

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