Twitter Activism Makes My Heart Ache

It is extremely hard to be effective activists on Twitter … and extremely easy to do nothing but fuel the fire

I quit Twitter again the other day. And again I’ve enjoyed the greater sense of spaciousness in my own head that’s come as a result. My mind has gone from being as busy as a city train station at peak hour and as cluttered as an old bookshop with precariously high piles to something better. Now, it’s like a small, smooth-floored, beautiful room whose sole contents are a single, large, exquisite, meditation cushion and behind that a double-sashed window with carved moulding thingies looking out onto a vista made up entirely of trees.

Man, I wish. I’m trying to function with an ME-addled body and its busted-up HPA axis. But still, having quit Twitter and started pregnenolone recently, I’ve been feeling a little dampening of the internal fire that for great swathes of the past 19 years has threatened to send me over the edge. To feel like my body is moving even a little closer to butter than to a dumpster bin fire is quite conducive to not shooting myself right in my own face.

Twitter makes me want to shoot myself right in my own face. How else to respond to a platform that features a large group of leftists stoning their fascist enemies while not talking anywhere near enough about the horrible precarity that drives some people of the working class towards becoming fascists?

I think I loathe leftists these days more than fascists. The latter were always going to show up at this point in time, not least because the individuals on the Left have refused to return from their hate and rage to the cohesion our own position requires, and so the Left has largely betrayed the working class people who society’s unravelling has most hardened. Push someone too far and sometimes, like pus, out a fascist pops

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that since quitting Twitter I’ve managed to write more than I have for weeks. There’s just more room for the ideas and stories to filter in now that a whole bunch of selfish strangers’ rage isn’t.

I knew I had to get off there when I was even starting to hate people who were pushing for change about things that I agree with.

Here is the thing — I would probably like you in person. I think there is something to like about just about anyone, if you’re open-minded and open-hearted enough. But online? Eh, maybe I won’t like you so much. I’m already full of stress, anxiety and depression. And you probably are too.

And no wonder. Look what we are up against. Our societies are crumbling visibly under the weight of the abuse foisted on them for the past 45 years. We are lonely and we’re defensive and we have few places to run to now in 3D, as a full-blooded person, with 206 bones and lymph nodes and a central nervous system so complex that we’re still way more complex than any computer. A person with hopes still, and paradoxes, and things we’re not sure about except for the one thing we’re sure about, which is that it’s not safe to be too real online, and no one is coming to save us except us when we all stop fighting each others’ tribes.

We’re defensive. And people who are defensive double down on what they know and what is safe. An open curiosity is a beautiful thing but it requires the kind of vulnerability that is becoming a luxury commodity now we’re living in the hustle, in the community of ashes that the rich have been slowly constructing for us over decades.

But what do many activists do? They get online. They’re real people but they’re stripped down to digital. And so we can’t see that they are the same complex and vulnerable fragile beings that we are. And they forget that we are the same complex and vulnerable fragile beings that they are. They seem to forget this especially about the people whose minds they’d like to change because they are too full of hate to engage with people where they are.

It takes a lot of emotional maturity to be the type of activist who would achieve much at all that is not done in the name of the same destructive force that is shooting us all right in our faces.

The uncooked activist argurs for the change that is desperately needed from a position of shaming. They shame and rant and abuse and demonise.

Fuck them.

Name me one activist that is the kind of person we know deep down we would at least listen to — which is a type of response, even if you don’t change your mind around to their way of thinking.

There’s not too many out there. Black Socialists of America are one. I will miss them on Twitter. I was always opened right up to whatever they had to say and I always went away feeling like I was at least the same size, but usually even a bit bigger. Solidarity does that. It warms your heart and reminds you of how there is a shared social heart you enter into with other people.

It’s amazing how far that juice can drive you when you’re running on empty.

Most activists are just so much noise. They’re not changing anything, just using a social space to vomit up their own fired up anxiety.

I think we’ve got to the time where we need to take ourselves largely 3D. We need to put our skin in the game. And not just marches but playful real-life protests. Human-sized installations. Creativity in our push towards whatever of the future we envisage. The kind of protests that don’t just speak truth to power but which also acknowledge that we are all moving towards change together. Even if we hate some of the people we’re moving forward with, we’re all being fucked over with the modern day jackboot that is neoliberal fascism. That maybe what that the future contains is a space where we learn again to have each others’ backs and ease each others’ frazzled minds because others did it for us and broke us out of the hate-trance we’re mistaking for powering forward.