Touching Grass: or, How Sacrificing My Legacy Twitter Account Freed Me
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…well, I can’t honestly say “the greater good”.
I mean, I guess I could make an argument that impersonating a “popular” conservative grifting sadist who gets her rocks off by inciting violent men into screaming at the children they claim to want to save is “the greater good”. By tweeting detailed accountability for the various repulsive actions of Chaya Raichik for 3 hours, using my legacy check-marked account with the Libs of Tiktok name and profile pic to make it look like she was taking ownership, I could say that I was showing people how one could make a decision to stop doubling down on bigotry and start recanting. The surprising fact that many people who were fooled said that they didn’t trust the tweets, but that they hoped Chaya could consistently show a change of heart, showed a forgiveness that I think we sometimes forget exists if you stop being defensive and actually own your shit.
But I’ll be totally honest because I do actually care about being accountable.
That’s not why I did it.
I did it because I am a chaos goblin, and because Elon Musk claimed he was trashing our legacy checkmarks and thus our credibility, making the site effectively useless to professionals like myself. So I said fuck it, sugar we’re goin’ down swinging.
Around 12:30 am, April 1st, I was logged out of the Twitter account I had cultivated since 2008 and I would not be able to log back in. No notice, no email — my account is seemingly frozen in purgatory, not suspended, not deleted, just an archive.
I had a good run. 15 years of posting about sex worker rights, the importance of street medics, how demonizing antifascists was meant to scare people away from resisting the Trump presidency, the ties between transphobia and misogyny, why TERFs and the GOP work together, and sometimes I even posted pictures of my cats. I outlasted many of my enemies — Milo Yiannopolis, Kyle Chapman, Gavin McInnes — though when I saw people like Donald Trump and Mike Lindell were back on the platform, I just… didn’t want to be there anymore. It was like visiting somewhere that seemed so magical and amazing when you were a kid, but as an adult, you realize the food is terrible and the bathrooms are grungy and the rides are actually really dangerous for someone without universal healthcare. I wondered if it was really worth constantly swimming against the tsunami of misinformation and bigotry. To what end?
When I woke up in the morning, I suddenly realized I felt… free. If I didn’t get my account back, I genuinely didn’t care anymore. I have had to battle detailed death threats, doxing, humiliation, and dehumanization, for years, and Twitter never seemed to really care about making it a safe place. They needed me more than I needed them.
So, I did what people had been scornfully telling me to do for 15 years — I went outside and I touched grass.
Ever since we went into Covid lockdown, I have felt like I was in hibernation, slowly growing more feral and less capable of being around people in real life. Social media felt like a lifeline to me then, a place where I could be amused, and outraged, where I could help organize direct actions and mourn the death of my loved ones. I was verified as a journalist, which felt validating professionally, and I had 15,000 followers at any given time which felt validating personally. Even so, I also felt my social muscles atrophying.
Social media expanded to fill the spaces that in-person connections left behind, and Twitter was my most used platform. I got sober thanks in part to the bars closing (my main hang-out spot at that time), so I went to Twitter to talk to people to distract me from my cravings. With sobriety came the realization that my boyfriend of 4 years was actually kind of a dick to me, so I dumped him. It was the right choice, but he was also one of my last excuses to leave the house. I went to Twitter to rant and find comfort.
Comfort became harder and harder to find, though. Transphobia, queerphobia, misogyny, and white supremacy, all seemed to take up more and more space with fewer and fewer consequences. When Elon Musk took over the platform, what little hope I had for Twitter becoming any better was gutted, and I started saying my goodbyes. It no longer felt like a place where I felt inspired and excited, but a chore. And in my actual, real life, there were actual, real chores to do.
So, when I woke up and realized I couldn’t check Twitter, I did those real chores instead. I watered my plants, marveling at the little sprouts reaching for the sun, feeling delighted at the unfurling of little viola flowers, and seeing baby strawberries peek out of new leaves. I tossed out some peanuts for the local murder of crows who trilled to each other as they coupled up and playfully scolded last year’s brood. I swept the balcony of the peanut shells left behind by my friendly local squirrel. It was a beautiful day, warm, with a bit of a breeze and a perfectly clear sky. I realized how nice it was to not be constantly pestered by the buzzing of notifications.
And when I felt a little twinge of wanting to hang out with community, I got fancied up in a cute new dress, grabbed some snacks and some non-alcoholic beer, and I… drumroll please… went and spent time with people in person. It was a friend’s birthday, and I hung out on a back porch that was covered in succulents, chatting with queer folks I hadn’t met before, people who were beautiful, diverse, fierce, and welcoming. I didn’t miss the alcohol. I didn’t miss the interruptions from some right-wing chump trying to hook me into some drama. I was in the moment, enjoying getting to know what they were passionate about, listening to music, and eating cake. We talked about politics. We talked about podcasts. We laughed hysterically about our weirdest experiences with substances.
I touched grass. It felt good. I didn’t check my phone. I didn’t have a ping of anxiety that something was blowing up when I looked away. Instead, I felt a recharged battery and a sense of ease that I didn’t realize was possible for me. I felt for the first time in years like I could just… be a person, in community with other people, not always looking over my shoulder.
When I got home, I deleted Twitter from my phone. Even if I do get my account back, I don’t think I’ll bother with it. I don’t need it, anymore.