It’s funny, the way life completely upheaves itself the moment you think you’ve finally found a niche. We all know how this is, but it never stops feeling new, or shocking us when it occurs.
Last night, life’s chasm found its way to me.
I’ve managed to keep my two twitter selves’ purposes separate for quite a long time. This is because their identities do different things. But the problem is weird twitter. I’m not necessarily pulling from @sbenthall’s clever definition (odd Darwin-esque moment where two academics, him and I, began using the same term at the same time, but anyway) except to say that in twitter, the fabric between the spaces of the spectrum is nonexistant:
normals ~ comedians ~ philosophical twitter ~ weird twitter ~ weirder twitter ~ deep twitter.
This is how I’ve come to know twitter in the years that I’ve spent learning its discourse, and subverting it. My two selves like to spend time halving this spectrum, yet sometimes ruptures occur. Like they will in any discourse. Last night, that is not what happened–well, not exactly.
Last night, I happened.
“Real me” on twitter has been relatively non self-disclosing about her work in twitter. She mostly kept it light. However, that is not always possible–as it is for any person. We tend to go deep. For me, going deep entails polemic, ethics, and a challenge to status quo discourse. Not even real me can remain Swiss year-round. This is why I have other me.
Other me, I’ve kept locked away from others. Not the others speaking in weirder and deep twitter, but from normal twitter. I am not ignorant. I knew long ago that my “real life” friends would never accept the part of myself that I am. So I separated them when I destroyed old me: @tumblesweed. When that happened, I felt free to embrace a side of me I fought with in silence. Other me could say what was on her mind, and not have to suffer any real life complications because of it. Her friends there understood her passion and her love for a healthier humanity.
But the real world did not. Does not.
Last night Leslie lost many of her “real” friends in a moment where she spoke from her heart. The discourse community of her tiny social life mixed with her discourse community of human rights work. They clashed horribly, painfully on all sides. People used words unforgivably cruel. And Leslie sat and watched without being able to do anything but speak. Speaking didn’t help. It killed.
Once the dust settled, there were firm lines set in the spectrum. Normal twitter was severed from “real self’s” life. That meant that all connection with people she actually sees in the everyday are gone.
That’s a good question. I know the answer. I’ve known the answer my whole life. It is a hurt no one should know. But we all do. We all hurt each other through language. Last night was evidence of that. Young girls are being hurt all over the world by speech acts of the cruelest kind: rape. Yet, the way we talk about these issues is a form of linguistic violence too. Our society has no means in which to discuss caring about heavy subjects–at least not in normal twitter or real life. This is why these things keep happening.
We hurt each other through words, and those words can be actually spoken, typed in twitter, or written onto the body by another’s. Language is not just scribed by pen or keyboard, but in everything we do. And that is why it is possible to hurt one another on so many levels. To say, “I like you, but I don’t want to know you on twitter” is to say one does not like who the person speaking is.
Is that not violence?
It isn’t if one thinks twitter isn’t real.
I don’t agree with that, personally, as someone who has jobs, friends, and the truest emotions recognizable attained via twitter. Not to mention the fact that these hurtful words shared in a place considered not real had very real life implications. But some people may still by the binary of digital dualism enough to placate things away. I am often a thing in cases like this. And that is why it is okay.
It is okay that some may not like either or one of my twitter selves. It is okay that I’m mostly hated by anyone who knows me personally ( real friends aside). Because I know what I’m doing is kind. Deconstructing language is serious business; but it is also very frightening to the modernists, *excuse me*, normals.
Sadly, there is no other way. When I say I study twitter, it is not an act of wasting my time as most would believe. Twitter is fully representative of the Internet as a whole, as well as life. Both are reflections of our world because both are man-made. There is no separation from humanity, or politics. Thus, I study who we are in a place where we are all very much collectively what we are: human. Not ironically, last night taught me that language in real life is of the most brutal kind. Alienation. Abandonment. and Absolution.
What is life but a flair for a good goodbye?