I have always been a prolific tweeter: the platform very much gets used ‘as intended’ in that regard. As part of my ongoing process of enlightenment, there’s been some time given to what has happened to get me here. Twitter last week suggested following someone who I’d not spoken to for several years: looking back, I realised that they’d been blocked, and then needed to remind myself of why. Going down that rabbit hole was eye-opening, reminding how the platform has changed in just a couple of years.
It’s never your friends that are the villains. It can’t possibly be the sweet, kind individuals who very intentionally hide their true natures when online knowing full well the consequences can be devastating. The more you live a lie online, the more likely it is that someone will find you out. The behaviours are there for all to see: eventually, it just needs enough people to put together the pieces.
It means, over time, continually reassessing what it is I am and how it appears. All the contentious people that I’ve clashed with, over the years, fit into some fairly distinct categories. Most feel I’ve made a mistake, and they’d be right. I shouldn’t have gotten halfway through that community project and shelved it: the reason why it was never completed very simple. I lost confidence in the people I was supposed to be championing.
That was the moment reality finally broke my self-imposed fourth wall.
Nearly all blocks imposed are the means by which I can exert control over situations that I feel threatened by. However, an increasing number are there to prevent people returning to read me, because they’re the quick and dirty means by which a feed can be instantly curated. As long as there’s gmail addresses still left to claim, it’s an academic task to set up a sock account and bypass any restriction: that act alone says far more about a person’s level of obsession than anything else. Take it from someone who knows.
The history of my past, littered with remnants of other people’s actions, nearly always paints me as the villain. I’m the one who seemingly shuts down conversations (clearly because I’ll lose) or I’m the one whose hijacking someone else’s feelings or personal sanctity. In nearly every case, there’s a realisation that the person you’re speaking to has either been dishonest, or is projecting onto you far more significance than actually exists in relation to the relationship.
That’s the killer: this other person thinks we’re friends, when we’re not.
A lot of this comes from being burnt, an awful lot across the years, by people who decided I was their friend when it was apparent the entire relationship was convenience. It still happens: you have a historical association, clearly enough to grant rights to complain, control and ultimately dismiss one side of a story because clearly, that can’t be true. It’s why I refuse to Facebook, accept requests from people who I used to know on the basis you need to be able to feel comfortable with all the mistakes of your past.
I will become the shitty friend, and am more than happy to accept the mantle of arrogant, selfish, intractable. I’m the toxic element you needed to remove from your life, yet so many people seem to find it really hard to let go. It’s odd, that: how many of those who complain so vociferously about being rejected will forget all that perceived mistreatment the moment they change behaviour. I know my shortcomings only too well. Learning those lessons is absolutely worth the effort.
There are many consequences to living life online. This week, I’m watching someone I knew very well for about a year and a bit get dragged through the media: part of a fairly high-profile, rather unpleasant court case. We met online, communicated regularly: their Christmas compilation CD has significantly shaped listening tastes. Of course, I didn’t ‘know’ them at all, just the piece of themselves they decided to share with me. That’s all online life is about, in the end.
Reality is no easier, and far messier. Maybe that’s why we’re all here to begin with.