I just deleted the Twitter app from my phone. The tech addict's equivalent of pouring that bottle of whisky down the sink, knowing full well there's another bottle hidden in the laundry basket.
The tweet that finally did it wasn't even that insulting. It was just some guy, RTing something I'd said about the phrase "I'm entitled to my opinion". You're not really, I said: you're only entitled to what you can argue for. It was part of a short string of tweets about that phrase, and what I thought was a fairly innocuous point: some opinions are backed up by facts, eg "the earth is getting warmer and it's going to be problematic", and some are backed up by feelings, eg "the earth is flat and the round theory is a conspiracy propagated by Big Globe". Just Some Guy held up my tweet as an example of a rabid banshee "yelling" at "no one". After a couple of days of my notifications being split clean down the middle between people agreeing with me and others suggesting I'm part of a Stalinist movement bent on making the Thought Police into an official law enforcement agency, ("YES", tweeted one of them, "WE KNOW THIS IS WHAT YOU MEANT" presumably before collecting his mouth-froth in a jar marked "Sunday"), for some reason this was the tweet that made me think, "You know what? Done".
Without getting too "in-my-day" about it, Twitter ain't what it used to be. It was where I went for news and fun and chat. I have replied to trolls with the request, "Would you mind trolling me below the article instead of on here? Twitter is playtime!" and some even obliged. I went there to laugh, and met hilarious people - there are folks I wouldn't recognise on the train unless they held their avatar in front of their face who I genuinely consider friends.
I blame the blue tick.
Since I woke up to that tiny status symbol and a follow from Gordon Ramsay of all people, things have gone rapidly rancid. I wasn't prepared for the way people suddenly seem to think what I say is worth their attention. It's like whispering to a group of friends that you think Gardeners' World is a bit dry, then you realise you're wearing a mic, and Alan Titchmarsh heard you and thinks a blue tick means you have power, status and brick-thick skin, so he sets his 50,000 followers on you because YOU. MUST. BE. STOPPED.
For the same tweet I've been called a communist and a fascist, followed by idiot, bitch, and - of course - whore. Lesson one for being a sentient female on Twitter: if a man is irritated by something you said, you are a purveyor of intercourse.
Amongst the tedium, there are always - ALWAYS - great people having debates that are interesting, intelligent and respectful. But finding them has become like sifting through a wasps' nest for Maltesers. It takes forever, you get repeatedly stung and after a while it becomes harder to justify the effort.
But still, who cares if people are being mean to me? Plenty of other people out there with things to say! Time to put my big girl pants on and leave my mentions. I was greeted with a timeline full of snark, despair and nightmarish news. Maybe it was just a horrible, bastard Monday. Maybe I'm reaping the rewards after years of sowing my follows with snarkmeistery. I looked for my favourite tweeters, then remembered they've left because all this is as exhausting and upsetting as it is DEATHLY boring. To quote one of my favourite Twitter-deserters: this isn't fun anymore.
I only deleted the app. Not my account. Steady on. There's still a bottle stashed in the laundry basket. But I feel like I've just left one of those bars that's packed wall to wall with sweaty, angry men, braying and pawing and calling you a slut for having the nerve to catch their attention by walking past. It's only been a day, but so far I can recommend it. It feels nice to have scrambled out, for now. You don't have to duck out here. The cold night air evaporates the sweat from your forehead and you think, "What the actual, bald-faced hell was I doing in there?"