Yesterday, I ended up having a conversation with someone where it became obvious that two people I could see and communicate with freely weren’t affording each other the same pleasure. Twitter doesn’t tell you who’s blocking who (probably with good reason) but after a while you get to know the people who are problematic. See, I could have called you difficult or prickly, but as those are both adjectives that get thrown at me from time to time? That expression that states ‘it takes one to know one’ is particularly apposite in situations like this. It’s that moment when I see a media star in a pose with a fan, or on a red carpet they really don’t want to be on. Their eyes give away the real truth, they’re as bored as fuck and just want a drink in their hand.
Twitter does that too, but you have to pay attention to pick it up.
For a lot of you, the process is transparent. You won’t even realise its happening over time, but if you spend enough hours reading people’s text, you begin to pick up the sense of the individual writing. It is akin to your favourite author’s ‘style’, a way of using your words in a particular order. Just as some people take their cues from the visual, mine come from the minutiae of the words. What is often forgotten by many of you is when you’re talking to someone else in my feed and I’m not CC-d in with my name. By virtue of following you both I’ll get those conversations, often if I want them or not. That’s when, more often than not, I’ll see the real truths behind the username. Because you may well treat me a certain way to keep me involved, but when you think I’m not looking? BOOM, off you go on your sexist rants or opening your mouth without thinking.
However, the bigger problem for me right now is people using their feeds as impromptu soapboxes. You get a bee in your bonnet about X: could be your soon to be ex-spouse, could be the traffic downtown, or maybe the fact that work colleagues treat you like dirt. Because this is your feed you can quite happily go on and on and on and on about this for as long as you like but, in the end, you’re going to imbalance your personal signal to noise ratio. For me, if all I’m hearing is you grumpy, angry or whiny? After a while I’ll just turn down the volume. If it persists, I’ll simply just let you go. Don’t expect me to pass judgement on your life either, because ultimately it is not my job to tell you how to live. I unfollowed someone recently and they tweeted me asking what they’d done wrong. The answer was simple: nothing at all. If they wanted to talk to me we didn’t need to follow each other, the fact was they didn’t do that at all. In this case I sensed I was there simply as a number, part of a ‘fanbase’ of people who would listen, comfort and reassure this person but ultimately have nothing to show for the relationship. Because for some people, you just need to have them there. They’re a badge of honour, someone everyone else is talking to and somehow you need to ‘collect’ to make your social media feed complete.
I’m not a badge of honour or a personality. I’m a person. With feelings.
So, I stand with body in many places simultaneously, on any given day. Those people I overlap have their reasons for interacting, and often they actively diverge from my own. That’s no biggie, I can talk to most, but after a while you just know who to avoid. Often, it isn’t because they offend you either. Many of my blockees actually don’t bother me that much, but that status is imposed because I upset them. I shoved them out of comfort zones, I poured scorn on their perfectly organised worlds, and it became that I was the difficult and prickly person they wanted to avoid. I’d like to think that in at least one case my complete refusal to budge on a point of principle was enough to make a certain person have the mother of all hissy fits and strop off into the sunset. No, it isn’t about right sometimes, it’s more to do with because. If you choose to live you life on principles you truly believe matter, then occasionally you should be standing and falling by those ideals, however mundane the situation.
Sometimes, you just know that you can’t hide the boredom. Those are the days you should not go out, not talk, and certainly not get involved in a fight on social media.