A Side of My Own
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A Side of My Own

What Became of Me After Twitter?

I was locked out of Twitter for over a year. Partly this was my own stubbornness — when my account was frozen for hate speech, I had to give Twitter a phone number in addition to a working email, but that was in violation of their own terms of service. I opened tickets to this effect a lot of times, and they were always closed without response. I wasn’t going to, and never, did give them a phone number, because that wasn’t in their own rules.

I wanted to pursue this somehow, given one would hope a social media company would at least be bound to the rules they created for themselves, but I found they weren’t really, and no one cared. I also found out that no one really cares about the GDPR, but that should probably be its whole own article. I know this was a small point, a tiny hill to die on, but I do think it’s indicative of the larger problem with tech companies: rules are for you, to the point of devastation at times, but rules don’t exist for them, even when they’ve made their own damn rules.

Also, my relationship with phones is overly complicated. When people ask me for my number, it turns into a discussion of what it will be used for and if that use will work. Calling me on it, for instance, never works. I’m with the kids… talk? On a phone? WITH MY HUMAN VOICE? ARE YOU MAD?

Generally they get someone else’s phone number, and that works out ok.

Twitter wouldn’t take no number for an answer, and wouldn’t let me back in, so that appeared to be that. But my partner wanted me to have my account back. And my partner has access to my dead file, with the passwords to recover my data and accounts if I die. (This is, by the way, something everyone should consider as part of life and death planning.) So a year and some months after I lost my account, my partner went in, found some number to give them, unlocked my account, and that was that.¹ Well, not quite.

An evening at home with my #1 fan

It was still locked because of hate speech. Ah, yes, remember the hate speech part? My partner uses the phrase “kill all men” too much by his own admission, and after his account was locked because of it, I teased him about it. I said “kill all men?” to him complaining about getting Twitter jailed for saying “Kill all men” aaaand… the inevitable happened next. (Yep, now with a bit of work you can dox who my partner is, but we’ve been developing software together for years, so we both figured that ship has sailed.) So Twitter required that I delete that tweet. Of all the tweets ever tweeted they could ever want deleted.

Needless to say I don’t want to kill all men. In fact, I don’t believe in killing any men, probably even ones you think deserve it, or even ones I think deserve it. I’m a pacifist, anti-death penalty, a believer in restorative justice, intercession, direct action, and police and prison abolition. But I’ve also written a spirited defense of the author of the SCUM manifesto, because I get how someone ends up wanting to cut up men. (Also it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece about how we overlook the crazy and hideous opinions of powerful men who do remarkable things, but reverse that for literally everyone else, often even to the point of taking away their remarkable things and crediting them to hideous men.)

I didn’t mean anything by my tweet, other than poking fun at my partner, but he means something by it. Not that he wants anyone killed, up to and including himself, but he’s also consistently frustrated by how parts of violent masculine culture work. His original sinning tweet with the offending phrase was about some French security guards who launched into a conspiracy to kill a women who did workplace bonding events because her approach was outcompeting a man in her area and somehow the DGSE ends up tangential involved? And it’s completely nuts. But it comes back to that same ol’ same ol’, men feeling threatened by a woman and so trying to actually, not hashtag, kill her. That’s what needs to be killed, he says, and has said for years.

But back to Twitter. My partner wanted me to have my account back because I have struggled to write and reach any kind of audience since being harassed off of Emptywheel on election day. (That’s another story and I don’t feel like telling it.) He knows Twitter won’t fix this problem, but that it’s likely to improve it. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you follow me on Twitter. My relationship with social media is not an easy one. I lost my career because of a social media mob, and that is still stupid, but also, still too toxic for most people to approach. If anything in my absence, social media has gotten less mature about complicated things, and the most screaming and hateful voice carries the day even more than they did when I became a casualty of a moment’s madness. Not right or left, just screaming, angry, and hateful. It’s not a great moment for humanity right now.

So what became of me? Well, I’ve struggled, it’s hard to be a writer almost no one reads. I’ve even considered getting a job, but that’s complicated for a lot of reasons. I’ve fought so much to get and failed to get mental healthcare since 2013 that my partner and I have decided to move to try and find a country where I might be able to get treatment, where it doesn’t just feel like they’re waiting for me to die.

I live off Patreon and my partner’s largess. I’m trying to heal. I’m looking for a new dream to dream. I still live in hope, in faith, and most of all in love. I don’t know if I’ll use Twitter quite like I once did. I need to protect myself a little better than I have in the past, when I saw myself as a tough-as-hell punching bag, but increasingly little else.

So what becomes of me after getting Twitter back? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll even get on FB or something, if this really is about getting my work out there. But my social media needs to live in a box and not be allowed to hurt me again. You can only live so long like that.

1. For the record, do not get on him about this. What he did was well within the rules of consent in our relationship. We’re allowed to push each other.

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Saying unexpected things since the 1980s. I often don’t fit into the political milieu, and people sometimes get angry. But even when I’m right, it never helps.

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Quinn Norton

Quinn Norton

A journalist, essayist, and sometimes photographer of Technology, Science, Hackers, Internets, and Civil Unrest.

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