My name is Ezinne Ukoha and I’m a Twitterholic.
Like most addictions — it started off innocently — and I was quite confident that I was disciplined enough not to irresponsibly indulge in something that was meant to overtake my faculties. You always want to believe in your ability to tread lightly at first and then eventually adopt a rhythm that can be comfortably maintained — without the threat of interference.
I’m not in charge of the shit that happens on Twitter. I can’t man the ship and ensure that users like me don’t have to deal with the chaos and mayhem that organically erupts when there are “too many people” and “too many problems” — splattered in one place for the purpose of forcing us into a tempo that is basically not sustainable.
Twitter is deliciously satisfying in ways that I feared would be potentially dangerous — but it was worth the risk — because — again — I wanted to trust my level of resistance.
I mean — I was raised with phones that sported the thick cord-like appendage that made it impossible to flirt with your teenage crush in peace. I read more than I watched television — and being sociable wasn’t something reduced to a set of characters — that are meant to convey complex emotions — best displayed in person.
But — I also previously suffered from the loss of being voiceless in ways that hampered the writing career I could never initiate — back when mailing query letters was the official process of communication with inaccessible editors. I’m convinced that no editor actually reached out and touched those stack of letters that always ended up in the dustbin — after the editorial assistants used them as comical relief.
And despite the “wokeness” with some of the Black women creatives who are old enough to have been useful mentors — when I subscribed to that way of thinking — I was consistently left in the dust whenever I tried to “connect” — in the hopes of making the case for skills I swore needed a place to flourish.
Now they tweet their allegiance to #BlackGirlMagic as if it were always that simple to be kind and generous — and I can’t help but me miffed at the audacity of their claims — which allows bitterness to set in and then I wish I didn’t have to start such a beautiful day with a blotted spirit.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
When the symptoms of my addiction set in — I was already in too deep and so I accepted the bliss of denial and proceeded to enjoy the sparks of notoriety with my eyes wide open. After spending the best years of my life parked at a cubicle while juggling deadlines for writing gigs — I finally hit my stride once the “retweets” and “likes” became a constant.
The era of being “seen and heard” was finally here and it was overwhelming trying to figure out how to play the game without getting hurt or vice versa.
I noticed how other users were grappling with the same challenges — and this was thankfully back when the mob mentality was at a minimum — and thank God for that because I had moments of failure that were sort of epic.
Like that one time I wrote an essay about a beloved and very popular African-American writer who was just a little bit older than me and incredibly successful. She was gorgeous — and her viability as a brilliant writer stemmed from her roots in the hip hop community — and how she parlayed that connection into literary gold.
She passed away in the early summer of 2012 — under mysterious circumstances — even though testimonies from those who were close to her highlighted her struggled with depression — which seemed to indicate that she may have taken her own life.
No cause of death was given and six years later — that hasn’t changed. As a blogger — I was inclined to write something about this tragedy — and mistakenly took it upon myself to spotlight why it was very likely that she committed suicide — by providing theories based on my own personal battles.
I shared the link on Twitter and and then went back to my weekend of running errands and hanging out. After some hours passed — I checked my timeline and noticed that I had received a ton of notifications. When I clicked to see how well the piece had been received — my world came crashing down.
The responses were brutal and numerous — and definitely beyond anything I had ever experienced in my life. A close friend of the woman I had misguidedly written about was livid that I had chosen to talk about someone I never met — and crucified me for making an assumption based on rumors that hadn’t been confirmed by her family.
There was also the greatest sin of all — which was how I had selfishly taken the liberty to utilize an unfortunate situation for my own gain — without considering the repercussions or how it would be received by the people who were still in mourning.
The timing and incentive was all wrong and I was rightly slaughtered by the maddened crowd who couldn’t wait to re-tweet the evidence of my crime with rapid ferocity. None of my apologetic tweets were enough to diffuse an out-of-control event that warranted a swift deletion — and glasses of wine to drown my guilt and fears that the target on my back would be impossible to remove.
Whenever I recall that episode — I still cringe at that burgeoning writer’s desperate need to keep up the momentum of potential discovery — at the expense of humane tendencies that failed to rescue me from making a disastrous move — that wasn’t at all reasonable or worth the embarrassment of being called out in such humiliatingly public way.
I changed my stance on actively seeking attention for my writing — and recoiled into the shell of doing what I do best without the pressure of selling myself to the highest bidder.
My forced maturity worked in my favor as I began to blossom under the growing fandom of loyal readers — who were and still are demonstrating their love for my words via Twitter. This newfound status as one of the the many writers that people want to celebrate on a platform that was built to accommodate such a thing — propelled me to heights I never anticipated — but definitely pondered in my younger years.
All I ever wanted in life was to either be an actress or the kind of writer that readers recognize and applaud. I didn’t want to be hit by a car — and die knowing that I would be remembered as a decent executive assistant who did some writing on the side.
Twitter has played a crucial role in my transformation into a full-fledged writer — due to the immense exposure to the perfect mix of followers who consist of users who love to read my work for pleasure or who harbor motives that are mutually beneficial.
And once that realization started paying off — my addiction kicked into high gear.
Not only was I tweeting my essays daily — but I also increased my engagement as a way to prove that I wasn’t just a bot with a one-track-mind. I felt the pressure to tweet stuff that reflected my personality and the issues that matched my some of my heavier pieces.
That’s when I was introduced to the ugliness of what we’ve become — when there’s no referee — and we’re left to our devices — to destroy or be destroyed.
The competiton is fierce when it comes to producing memorable responses that either praise or curse the actions of notables. Nobodies aren’t exempt from this treatement — but famous people are suffer more because of their fame — and the potential profit that could be garnered if the right people stop scrolling at the sight of your latest gem.
Take the shit currently unfolding with Kanye West and tell me that it hasn’t gotten crazily out of hand. The hashtag that was swiftly formulated to counteract the effects of his comments about slavery gives me an intense headache — as my timeline is assaulted with memes — threads and other forms of ammunition that end up making Kanye seem like the unexpected victim of his staged massacre.
It gives me the vision of a buffet that is so crowded with starving people — fighting to fill their plates with their favorite selections — and for those of us on the sidelines patiently waiting our turn — we can’t help but marvel at the intensity of this tumultous scene.
Before Kanye’s cruxifiction — I was pretty much approaching another reminder that it was time for a Twitter break. The rampant checks that occur all day and night are beginning to take a toll — especially when I grab my phone around 2:30 am to charter my progress or to see unfortunate items trending — like DJ Khaled’s stance on “giving and receiving” and why most feel like he should embrace both options.
It’s not fun gripping the covers in the dark with the knowledge that you can’t fall asleep with images of dicks — tongues and pussies — rotating around the heads of famous guys — who purposely said shit to start shit and then when shit hits the fan — the people who clean the shit — are also looking to make that shit count for something — so they end up making that shit last longer than it needs to.
I need to step away from the tweets — but I can’t because I’ve convinced myself that I need to be active — even it means increasingly talking to myself and wanting to strangle the next person who explains why slavery was just as bad as we aready know it was.
I’ve read heroic pieces from amazing writers who shared why you can no longer find them on the platform of my discontent — and my admiration never shields me from my own pathetic reliance on something that has become a form of self-inflicted abuse — that hurts so good.
I have zero plans to help myself out of this or to take the free advice on how to replenish the dead cells that aren’t rehabitating.
I’m married to Twitter and the commitment is the currency for my self-worth because of how we began this relationship. Through the ups and downs — there was the promise of something tangibly rewarding — and since that was fulfilled — I have to bear all the other stuff because you can’t bow out when the going gets tough.
You have to stick it out. You have to admit that you have the disease and manage it as best as you can. You have to think about the wins and not focus on the losses — even when the stakes get higher and users begin to turn against a young Black woman — who once wrote a book with satirical undertones that reflect what she’s always been about — and led to her hit TV show.
Or when individuality is shot to hell — through the temptation of clickbait titles that hide the meaning behind the article — that nobody reads because they’re too immersed in carving out their moment to shine — via the winning response of the day.
Engagement has become a tug of war — and not at all the dignified symbiosis that thrives under the security of varied a mindset — that is able to expand without the judgment from the mafia — that delegates the gruesomeness that permeates when you deviate from the established norm.
Despite the life and death gamble — I’m a Twitterholic — and I’m not going to explore my options because I’ve been doing this a long time now and I’m still here. I got this!
And honestly — how bad can things really get?