A few days ago I muted all the accounts I follow on twitter from my @cistotrans account and tweeted that I was taking a one-month break.
There are some things I really enjoy about Twitter.
The ease with which you can connect with other people. The immediacy. The banter. The knowledge-sharing. The raw emotion that comes through sometimes. Seeing friendships and relationships struck up. Happy moments and lives shared.
There are also some things I really dislike about it.
The circular reporting, where a piece of bad news gets endlessly Tweeted about. The 140 character limit that forces abbreviated thoughts and makes it extraordinarily hard to have group conversations. The cliques. The sheer noise and volume of it. Watching anger, rage and frustration bounce around.
What I’ve noticed is that by being able to perch on so many virtual shoulders and swimming in the sea of voices and images, I’ve lost a small bit of myself in the ups and downs of others. Instead of doing the hard work of internal introspection, I was vicariously surfing on others’ experiences and projecting them onto my life. In my experience, that is always a recipe for personal disappointment.
Watching my online friends grapple with coming out, suicide, work-related transition issues, wardrobes, relationships and all the other myriad things that get touched in our lives as we navigate gender distracted me from me.
The distraction accelerated in November when I was no longer employed and had even more time to stare into my phone and wonder, “What’s happening on Twitter with my friends?” I watched the holiday funk set in for several of the people who I follow, and I took on some of that. I saw some of my own depression reflected back to me in others, and I took that on too.
Even more troubling to me was that it was getting harder for me to celebrate my friends’ happy moments and console them in their harder moments. The reasons ranged from jealousy to apathy, and that negative emotional spectrum is not a good place for me to dwell. Add in the omnipresent bad Trans news and the people angry at it, and I realized that something needed to change.
Over the past few weeks I tried selectively muting combinations of people and accounts, but I found that by tuning my feed that way, I lost the texture of the medium. It would be too happy, (I know that probably sounds crazy to some people, but I’ve always learned more from failures than from successes,) or not challenging enough, (makeup is a solvable problem, but gender theory is not,) or repetitive, or, well, boring. And I was still losing myself in it, which I’ve learned is a huge distraction mechanism for me.
So here I am, looking for myself within myself again, with one less distraction for a while.