I had an experience recently on Twitter that was not very pleasant. I wanted to talk about it, but because I had no larger context in which to place my experience I decided to keep mum about the experience.
Let me start by saying that I actually really like Twitter. It’s a great place to start building networks and connect with people who care about things that you care about. I’ve really enjoyed following people I look up to, like Jessica Valenti, artists that I enjoy listening to like P!nk, and keeping up on issues I care about like the Occupy movement.
One thing that I’ve particularly enjoyed is getting to know other writers. I started to follow Alle Wells after I read her book, “Lame Excuses.” Eryn Lockhart has been a true friend to me and we got started on Twitter. Overall, Twitter has been really great.
But this isn’t just a rave about how great Twitter is. This is just the preface.
The experience I had was shortly after someone started to follow me. This person started our relationship by telling me that I should buy his book. I took a look and it seemed pretty interesting. However, I’m a poor college student and so I didn’t buy the book right away. However, I told this new “friend” of mine that the book looked interesting and that I liked his unusual heroines. I followed that up by saying that if he liked unusual heroines he might enjoy my book. The next time I checked Twitter I saw that this person said that he would only read it if it had real demons in it. I ended the conversation by saying that personal demons were very real to some people, indeed they are sometimes more real than any cloven hoofed being. I left it at that. This was not a person I was going to pursue any kind of relationship with. However, I did not “unfollow” this guy.
In the following weeks I noticed that this guy posted some pretty insulting stuff on Twitter. I knew that he would never read my books about empowered women. I did not want to be friends people who think that misogyny is funny. I didn’t say anything, I simply unfollowed him. However, I had forgotten to unsubscribe to his blog and I recieved an e-mail notification that he had written something. It was a huge rant on how people couldn’t take a joke. Turns out someone had called him out on his B.S. and as a result lost over 100 followers. I felt a small victory.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what this experience has to do with anything. Why am I writing about this?
Because Twitter is not the only place you need to be cautious about the people you surround yourself with. Everywhere you go, you have to pay attention to what people say and act. Do you think the person you’re with is great? How do you feel about the guy who tells you 30 minutes into the first date that he’s horny (true story, unfortunately)? How about the girl who complements your tie when you’re taking her to a fancy resteraunt? The stranger you pass in the street? What do you do when that person is making you uncomfortable?
It takes courage to call people out. Courage that I could not find in this situation. Sometimes it’s easier to simply fade away. But either way, you need to remember that it is critical to remove yourself from individuals who are posionous to you. Take care of yourself first, and everything else will fall into place.