Unpublished: Yet another article about quitting Twitter

When in the course of inconsequential events it becomes expedient for one person to delete the social media profile that has connected them to a large group of other people, a decent respect to the opinions of those readers requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Well, ‘requires’ might be a bit strong.

I recently deleted my twitter account – but I’ve not deleted my account forever. Just for now, and for the next while. I didn’t delete it because of right wing harassment.

It’s more this – when you get a twitter dm, and you have the app installed on your phone, your phone vibrates when the message is received. Shouldn’t you be at least a little discriminating about who can make your pants vibrate?

I’ve not been. And as a consequence a lot of people have been able to send me messages, privately, subtweet about me, send me facebook messages, voicemail even – and a certain percentage of that is really critical.

And I’m OK with most of the criticism and the attacks and the loser hatemongers. If you only knew how thoroughly soul crushing a Walrus editing session is. US special forces are trained to withstand torture by being tortured during their training – waterboarded, sleep deprivation, all that. The point of it being that if they’ve been through torture, they can be better prepared for it, and last a little longer. Walrus editing is like that. Which isn’t a criticism of Walrus editing mind you, it’s a feature of it. But there’s nothing that Christie Blatchford can say that’s quite as brutal as seeing 4 of 5 paragraphs deleted in editing.

So those critics I can handle.

It’s the other critics that get to me. It’s the people saying that I’m taking up too much space, centering myself too much, saying I’m too full of myself, that I should be careful how I speak, that I shouldn’t try and rep anyone, or write on other FNs, the Metis, the Inuit.

The criticism stings, because it’s feeding into something I’m already worried about. I turn down a lot of stuff, to keep my small niche over here, I avoid speaking about Native politics as much as possible, and try to focus on a couple issues I know. In my writing lately I’ve cut myself back to only writing when I can contribute new information, not just opinion (with 1 exception), but new info.

So when I hear that criticism, it carries some extra weight, and makes me reluctant to write, makes me question what I’m writing or working on.

A strain within that criticism is also telling me that I’m too soft on things. Too bland, and compromising. I don’t accept that. But it does stay with me when I’m writing. Chirping away, making me think about punching up the text a bit. But that’s not writing, that’s performing.

I see myself as a didactic writer. And when I sound harsh, it’s a tool I’m using to make a point that can’t be made another way. But it’s not angry for the sake of angry – angry as ‘venting’.

Besides all that, there’s the baseline awfulness behind the concept of social media more generally. With Twitter, the retweets, and likes are addictive. And when your phone chimes with more, it’s like Pavlov’s bell – feeding the addiction. Naturally you make a connection between which tweets get more feedback, which get less – and you change the way you tweet in order to keep the bell ringing.

I’m thinking too much about the response, and not enough about what I’m trying to produce.Twitter is making me evolve as a writer in a way that is maladapted to the type of writing I want to do. It’s an island ecology, and those produce stunted, runt animals that don’t have the robustness needed to win over the 90% of people who live in the real world.

Most writers on there became who they were as writers before going to Twitter, so it doesn’t affect them as much. But that’s not the case for me, and so I can try and work with it, or I can leave the room and shut the door.

My mother was just here for a visit – that’s us at the top of 30 Rock. I’ve got a couple talks I’m preparing for. I’ve got a big interview that I’m reading up to prepare for. I’m taking a last shot at this summer article – and I hope to have another piece out in April. That’s what I’m doing for the foreseeable future.

I’ll likely eventually return to Twitter – if you want to write, you can’t avoid it.

But it bugs me that people talk about me like I’ve been harassed offline, or need some time to recuperate, or are in some way damaged. If you want to feel why I’ve gone offline, really – take a bus a 1am on St Patrick’s Day. If you say – ‘screw this’ – get off the bus and walk, that’s not you being broken, that’s you avoiding a headache.