When I first discovered Twitter in 2010, I was hooked. I posted every little thought I had and watched that year’s election unfold as told by the opinions of dozens of strangers I suddenly trusted. I very quickly became the kind of person who had a lot of opinions and they simply had to be expressed immediately, too.
Being mean to others was a kind of style trope at the time and many of my favourite writers, like Charlie Brooker and Caitlin Moran, were really bloody good at it. I wanted to be like them, so I had to be sarcastic and insulting. I don’t look back fondly on that time and recognise now that I was largely being pretty awful.
Although I stand firmly by the expletives I directed at Piers Morgan.
Luckily, I’ve had my time of being young and a little naive. I’ve tried to go back to Twitter several times but it’s truly horrendous. We’re seeing this bizarre social media world we’ve created for the extreme negative impact it can have – and many work hard to make it a force for good. I certainly believe it’s possible. Now that I’m posting on social media again, I’m *mostly* struck by how nice people are.
But also how weird some are.
This week, a comment on my social media sent me spiralling and made me briefly (but frantically) question myself. Luckily, I had a friend (an actual angel) who calmly talked me down from the ceiling at 9:30 on a Monday morning. But it didn’t stop me feeling pretty bruised. Why does the negative rise to the top so easily in the sea of positive?
For me, I think it’s because I can no longer fathom a world where I would go out of my way to be a dick to a stranger. Why waste your time? If a post has invited debate or discussion, there’s ways to contribute while also being respectful — as you would/should if you were in person. But someone discussing a show they enjoyed or an experience they had at work, for example, can just be those things. Why feel the need to take someone down off the back of such wildly inoffensive things that don’t remotely affect you?
Some (I don’t think any of my gorgeous readers, of course) could do with a reminder that there’s always a chance the person you target will see it and that will likely sting. Even if they don’t, your friends, family and connections will. So ask yourself, would you be rude to a stranger in a room surrounded by those people?
Before you post, maybe just listen to some Taylor Swift instead?