I’m unsure just how long Twitter has been on the scene, but my guess is approximately a decade. In that time, I never once considered signing up under the mistaken belief that it was nothing more than a platform for famous people to air their thoughts in 140 characters, and for lesser mortals to follow their every word. I didn’t see much point.
Looking back now, I can’t quite pin the tail on what thought exactly pushed me to try Twitter out, if the above is what I thought it was. It wasn’t even that long ago, but as any avid Twitter user can vouch for, a week there is like ten billion years in real time so my four and a half months of use now feel like a lifetimes has passed. I have no doubt that loneliness, isolation, and a want for someone to hear me were among the underlying factors. I thought that I had a lot of interesting rubbish cluttering my mind, and that if only one person on the planet ever saw it and liked it, that would suffice. I just wanted someone to hear me.
So I joined Twitter out of loneliness. This is what I think I expected to happen: to follow famous people, as I thought everyone on there did, and occasionally have something intelligent or funny to reply, and maybe, just maybe, someone would notice what I was saying, and I’d do the odd happy dance at the fact I do exist. What actually happened: I somehow immediately stumbled across the god debate (I say somehow, but then I am unsure you can be on Twitter and avoid the god debate) and was sucked in. After two and a half years of little else than referring to myself in the third person and making fart sounds at a toddler, this mental stimulation was highly addictive. Not only the mental stimulation, but the interaction with other minds, the response and, most overwhelmingly, the positive feedback to things I had to say.
I have no idea of exact timings, this is guesswork, Twitter has turned my brain to mashed potato. I think I revelled in semi-intellectual debate for a couple of months, ‘semi’ because there are minds far superior to mine on there and if Twitter has taught me anything at all it is that I know nothing. But without going into detail because I have some sort of god debate induced trauma now that makes me want to stab myself in the face with a fork, I totally immersed myself in it all day, every day, when I could. There was literally no getting enough of it. Some debates went on for days! For a little while I was in Steph heaven, I reached the tip of that arc, I was in love, and I had only been there for two months.
Perhaps this is why the love affair with that debate was so brief and why I felt myself growing quickly bored of it and driven partially mad – the very intensity of it. But it was so new and exciting and fresh! And then began growing repetitive… and then tedious… and then my right eye started twitching, literally. No offence to those who continue this debate relentlessly – I am impressed at your dedication and drive. I just personally found there were only so many times I could say ‘but how can the bible have any actual meaning if it is open to interpretation’ or ‘referring to the bible as evidence of a god is circular’, etc, without feeling like I was walking around in circles and smacking my head against a wall.
I think the turning point potentially had less to do with the god debate per se and more to do with the introduction, in my life, of the flerf (flat Earth believer) phenomenon. There is a statement I came across that I think will be forever etched in my memory. It was something along the lines of ‘evidence is not proof of anything’. It was a very defining moment in my Twitter journey because it made me wonder what the damn point of any of this debate was if I was debating people who literally did not care what empirical evidence there was out there. We may as well be bouncing about, tapping our heads, blowing raspberries at each other. Debates at cross purposes yield nothing, and I slowly began slipping, or quickly tumbling, I’m unsure which, into total absurdity, pretending the potato was god, making videos reciting farcical alternative prayers, interviewing God parody accounts and asking ridiculous questions, essentially saying: this is as absurd as all the serious debate has started to feel.
Again, this is intended as no offence to those who continue the debate – if you enjoy it, if you gain personal satisfaction from it, if you feel the need or desire to continue for any reason at all, then that’s beautiful. But it drove me mad.
The flerf brigade are responsible for a second problem in my Twitter existence: I can no longer tell when someone I do not know well is being entirely sarcastic or serious. There are accounts on Twitter that are satirical, but to such subtle extremes that they could potentially mean what they are saying, you just don’t know. And then there are the people who say totally insane things, you think that they have got to be joking, and it turns out they very much mean it. I thought someone was a purely parody account for a very long time and it almost made me question the very essence of my existence when I found out that no, he meant everything he said in a very literal sense.
So with my ‘what’s the fucking point’ stance combined with the total destruction of my sarcasm detector, around the end of December I had a distinctly ‘throw all papers up in the air’ moment. I very nearly left Twitter for good. And were it not for a different side to it that I accidentally stumbled across, I doubt very much that I would still be using it. At this point I am unsure whether this other aspect to Twitter has saved my sanity, or increased my insanity. To be sure I don’t even know what constitutes sanity anymore, all I know is that I love it: the entirely absurd silliness.
In Twitter terms, I have completely lost my marbles. I wouldn’t be surprised if loads of people who initially followed me are now wondering why they ever did. But after colliding down into a pit of ‘why do I even bloody exist anymore, what is the point of this’ doom after losing all sense of reality, unable to understand why or how people relentlessly debated about the same things in circles on and on and what was wrong with me if I couldn’t handle it and which way was up, the silly side of Twitter picked me up and saved me. Because the truth is that no matter how engaging those initial intellectual debates were, and no matter how addictive I found the mental stimulation for a while, I personally am just not like that in any long term sense; I’m a clown. I’m a childish, sarcastic, shameless (albeit crippled with self esteem issues, but then aren’t we all) clown. I do enjoy the odd debate, but it left me feeling exhausted in a way that wasn’t happy because it didn’t make sense to me. What does make total sense to me is being an idiot.
This may read like I am putting myself down, but I really am not. I know that I am fairly intelligent. But what I am being true to is that I just personally prefer, in terms of a constant day to day way of being, the silliness. So my arc of Twitter use has curved back up and plateaued at this completely absurd, immature and fun place, and it is my happy escape again. It is less exhausting, I have found my friends who share this lunacy with me, who make me cry in absolute hysterics and brighten up my day with shared nonsense, and the day it ever stops being this fun and happy world of insanity where I can just be my own bonkers self, I will leave. But for now I have found my Twitter home and staying put.