After two weeks of Internet abstinence during my holiday I decided to reflect about going back to the always buzzing notifications of Twitter. It’s not really specifically about Twitter, but that’s where I spend most of my time online. Most of my thought might be applicable to any “place” on the internet.
Don’t worry, I did not turn neo-luddite and won’t write one of those articles. However this might be the first time I feel ambivalent about coming back.
Twitter and the Internet is where nearly everything good in my life came from, in one way or another. It’s full of people I know and love. Even of people I don’t know and love. And vice versa. Most of my friends are there. It’s where I want to stay.
Taking time off made me realize how emotionally taxing it has become however. There are a lot of people on there that want to hurt my friends. It’s a constant barrage of harassment, threats and bullying, sometimes emanating from just beyond the edge of my circle of friends. Women get silenced by physical threats, men are silenced by (unfounded, but hassling) legal threats.
I myself have stopped speaking about various things in the last months just to avoid the risk of getting hung up in additional stress that might break my back in the face of a very taxing time of my life. I even switched my feed to English to minimize the impact of toxic discussions in the German Twitter community.
In short: It’s anything but a safe or friendly place.
I wish we’d find a way to make places online safer. I wish there was a market for that. I wish there was VC funding for that. I wish anybody with enough resources to do that would be enticed to work on that. But until then I’m back on Twitter – maybe less often – trying to find a constructive way to navigate the hate.