Why I am a #Qwitter

No, that’s not a typo. I meant to spell quitter with a W instead of a U. It’s my way of saying I finally quit Twitter.

In 2011, I had joined that social media platform and yeah, there was the odd troll here and there, but I’d just block them and continue to enjoy the fun folks. Twitter used to be quite social. I met so many friends there who I still have today!

Over the years, the mood of it changed to more of a social justice feel, and I followed many disability advocates or disabled folks just sticking up for their realities. I met wonderful author humans. I hosted a weekly writing chat for Spoonie authors. I loved how we all learned from each other. I grew so much as a person.

So, why did I leave?

I mean, there was of course, a certain musk in the atmosphere… But despite that plot twist, there was something else just as serious. Over the last few years, during the pandemic, my time on Twitter was taking me over. I was addicted and couldn’t put down my phone for hours sometimes. I would be emotionally impacted by what I read—constantly. Friends noticed. My spouse noticed. I felt I couldn’t leave it because I needed to remain there for other disabled and autistic folks who depended on the platform for its accessibility. I grew stubborn on this point, too. And I was in this endless loop of read, stress, read, stress. Finally, one of my friends just had it with me and confronted me on it. Out of compassion and fear for my mental health, they didn’t mince their words. Being autistic, I prefer it when people get right to the point, but it stung like hell. It hurt because everything this person said was true.

And I woke up to myself.

I love being a disability advocate in literary spaces. I love communing with authors online. But the drama and toxicity that came with my inability to stop droomscrolling was greatly affecting my mental health. I couldn’t sleep. I was having nightmares.

Did I mention that trying to process hundreds of people angry or hurting is a hellscape for an autistic person who is hyperempathatic? Because it is. I couldn’t handle it.

As I write this, I have just deleted my Twitter accounts for my author self and the Spoonie Authors Network. I am still on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and will probably be using my YouTube channel more. So, I’m not gone from social media altogether; I’m just controlling where I am and how much time I spend there.

Shockingly, I don’t miss Twitter (I haven’t been on it much at all except to post where to find me and one event I participated in). I think I might have wanted to leave it for a while now, and just needed a loving friend to kick my butt.

So, if you find yourself caught up in a toxic mess on some platform, take it from me, it’s better to leave. Just as it’s important to remove yourself from toxic in-person situations. Your mental and physical health are more important. It might feel hard to do, but the nice people who want to follow you will try to in other ways.

I realized that I will never stop being hyperempathetic, but I am too strong a person to let a platform dominate me.

My friend knew this too. And when they saw me sobering up from my doomscrolling addiction, they said: “I feel like I have my friend back.”

Yeah. I was lost for a while there.

But I’m back now.

Thanks, friend, for caring that much about me, and tossing out a life preserver when I didn’t realize I was drowning.

And now, onto healthier, more joyful times!

Also, happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all! Éire go brách!

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo is #QwitterDay taken by Cait Gordon

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