I wonder if most people recall the moment they decided to join Twitter, or how when their accounts became official. The day I joined Facebook is quite clear in my mind, and I’m sure the time it took to delete my page almost a decade later will also be recoverable.
Twitter on the other hand is a different story, since I can’t recall how I made the decision to begin tweeting my thoughts, or even the day I launched my timeline.
I know that the year I began tweeting was 2009, and that info is provided by those who make it a point to track your activities. I also know that within that time, I’ve grown obsessively dependent on the functionality of that space because of how it has changed my life as a writer.
The highs and lows are the natural flow of things, and the absolute buzzkill was my very first introduction to being “dragged” for all to see, back in the summer of 2012.
It was a harrowing but very brief treatment, that stemmed from an ill-fated essay I curated about a beloved author, who was a young and vibrantly beautiful creature — a Black woman who had amassed the the respect and recognition that made hidden writers idolize her anointed trajectory.
When she was found dead, the shock of it was hard to bear, and as a writer, I expressed those words in the way that matched my fragile disposition. I was aligned with an online publication, and when they got my draft, they rejected with no reason or suggestions on how I could rework the delivery.
I opted to post it on my own site, and when the tweeted link went live, shit hit the fan.
My notifications were lit!
I wrongly assumed my essay was garnering the attention is deserved, but minutes later, I discovered that my best intentions created the makings of a maddening crowd, who were committed to shaming my exploits with considerable strength — as they publicly called out my misguided attempt to assess a complex situation involving someone I never met in my life.
It was the first time I felt the urgency of watching your life dissolve before your very eyes, in full view of strangers, who were growing against me by the numbers, as the bandwagon expanded by the minute.
The only thing to do was own up to my dreadful mistake, and ask the leader of the revolt to have mercy on a burgeoning writer, who clearly miscalculated the risk involved in presenting her version of events — at the expense of the heightened emotions of those who were rightfully protective of someone who wouldn’t want her life dissected by well-meaning strangers.
The dark clouds eventually parted after my plea for forgiveness was followed by the promise to delete the evidence. Thankfully, the residue didn’t carry over into the next several days, and there was no sign of “career-haters” or “human cancellers” — still panting for blood.
The damage to my reputation was minimal at best, mostly because I wasn’t remotely close to being an “influencer,” and my number of followers barely registered as acceptable or noteworthy, so that made the recovery period quick and seamless.
It was also the period of engagement when users relied on the old adage “we’re only human,” as the gauge for whether or not to pursue further combat. There were very few troublemakers who were motivated to use their time — unearthing old tweets or blog posts — to heroically incriminate and demonize those accused.
Still, six years later, I have to wonder, what it would be like to replicate that exact event, based on the fact that my presence on Twitter has slightly improved, thanks to the much-needed attention given to my writing, and how that exposure has garnered me a modest following of influentials.
Given what we’re all witnessing, Twitter has become the public square of ceremonious cancellations, as celebrities, influencers, and ordinary folk, are thrown into the heated gauntlet, that’s manned by viral royalty, in a territory known as “hateration.”
This tempestuous kingdom can only thrive when enough users gang up and create the ammunition that aims to cancel out those with strong opinions, that are unpopular and threaten the status quo of endorsing what “everybody” deems valid and irrefutable.
There are also instances when the verbal stoning is warranted, but even in those cases, worker bees with an incredible amount of time for extended sessions of hating, unleash a brand of venom that spreads to poison innocent parties, which basically puts the original initiator in an unenviable position.
This is the current mood on my scorched timeline, as I try to recover from the round-the-clock attacks, that stem from the misdeeds of someone who absolutely deserves the hate, based on the re-surfaced receipts that prove her gross negligence and consistent lack of respect for a culture that gifted her with fame and some fortune.
Her actions have unleashed consequences in the form of a war that has been waging since before you and I were born, and thanks to the bright idea of techies, we can’t duck for cover — the way they did back in the day.
The legendary tension between Africans and Black Americans or #DescendantsofSlaves has finally reached a tempo that’s hard to ignore, even if you’re desperately trying to remain visibly neutral.
The genesis of the lacerated feud began with White people, who were fueled by the greed of divisiveness, that created everlasting chaos for their betterment. None of the methods of oppression shielded Black victims from the paralyzing consequences that manifest in ways we may never recover from — despite our efforts.
When hate is a battlefield, and Twitter is the doting mother, you can be assured that the sins of yesteryears will batter the forecast for tomorrows, as you’re summoned to appear on judgment day with the road map to that damning thought process — that allowed you to expose your true colors — undiluted.
The thing is that Twitter gave us to the tools to our mental demise — guilt-free — because the understanding is that we’re adult enough to figure out the blueprint for being able to disagree without the tendencies of makeshift riots, and the drawn out practice of making a potentially shitty situation — tragically shittier.
And so here we are, with front row tickets to the heated tussle of the moment, that’s propelled by the announcement of a high-profile casting in an ambitious project that tackles a subject that’s sensitive enough to demand a strong reaction across the board.
The star of the show is beyond talented, and there’s nothing to indicate her inability to make us all proud, except for the fact that her lineage is in question, by those who align her with a newly-minted enemy, who represents a whole category of people that have apparently been offending for long enough.
This isn’t an attempt to iron out longstanding differences because that ship has sailed.
The climate on my timeline proves how we rely on the engine of hate as a sweeper of misplaced emotions that never have to be itemized because that amount of work will force us to face the complexities of our gripe — and how Blackness and all the variations that apply — can’t be diluted into a solution that kill indestructible bonds.
Tweeting and retweeting and threading, with all the “likes” that amount to our bloated egos, seems like a harmless habit, that can get us splashed on the front page of reputable pubs, but that brief interlude with fame, will never be enough to assuage the undying appetite for activated notifications.
And so the ravenous crowd get as hateful as necessary, in order to amass followers who follow that kind of rhetoric, and very soon, the people you thought you knew take on new personas that leave you out in the cold.
The worst has happened, and Twitter has remarkably succeeded in turning longtime friends into a forever foes, as your Africanness becomes a dealbreaker for you and anyone who registers under your heritage.
This isn’t a sappy attempt to mourn losses because life has become a clickfest that makes it so easy to switch sides and never look back. I’ve accepted this reality because the alternative is to remain pathetically optimistic about our future.
Just as platforms with promising premises end up fucking you over, once your comfort level with an unbiased system leaves you woefully vulnerable — humans are incapable of avoiding the temptation to be righteous assholes — because the celebration of their genius streak at the expense of sensibility and respectability is too hard to resist.
We all want to belong to something bigger than us, and when like-minds converge, the results can be amazingly inspiring, and while we have those parades of hopefulness and progression, there’s way more bonfires of vanities — burning away the opportunities for life-changing conversations — without the hateful threads.
It’s almost like President Trump won all over again, when you read the increasing pleas for the end of immigration and watch videos featuring a new crop of messengers, who are finally able to use the spotlight for their acute hate-mongering.
Twitter will continue to be the wayward parent, who encourages the children to stick to the path that tears us apart, regardless of whose side you’re on. The tools of manipulation are overwhelmingly coerced against us, and the bankability of our weakness is a certified hit for anyone who is financially invested in our expensive stupidity.
We could be engaged in the seminar of our lives, without the cruelty of words and a climate that eats itself inside out — but the Black and Blacker debate will have to wait, because the haters are determined to exercise the right to destroy anyone who doesn’t fit their narrative of truth.
And like the doting mother, observing with pride and prejudice, Twitter neatly categorizes all the hate, systematically making room for much more.