I came off Twitter for a bit last week.
I’d been planning a digital detox for a while and I could pretend it was just about that.
But it wasn’t.
It was because I’d been made a fool of. A person who had been posing as a teacher-dad of a sick baby turned out to be a fake. I had sent him lots of supportive messages and DMs (as had many, many others) and the realisation that I had been duped made me feel shocked, sickened and ashamed.
I was not sure why it made me feel quite like it did at the time but I reacted by coming off Twitter and Facebook and even locking my Twitter account.
Since, I have had time to reflect.
I am very trusting and very forgiving. I am often too naïve. I want to see the best in everyone. I share a lot (maybe too much?) about myself and take the Tom Hanks quote about honesty to a bit of an extreme: “The only way you can truly control how you are seen is by being honest all the time”.
This has been a strength at times in my life but has also led me, at other times, to be abused and mistreated.
I have recently been doing some very intensive work about something that happened to me as a child and which has left me with a lifelong sense of shame and a tendency to dread and fear. The fact that I was duped by this hoaxer fed right into the victim role that I am trying to shake off and the timing was very unfortunate, in that it made me immediately knee-jerk into blaming myself and beating myself up.
Ok, I probably didn’t look carefully enough at the profile to realise that the story didn’t add up. I should have done.
But what real harm was done?
I didn’t send them any money or do or say anything that I regret.
For a while I thought about deleting my blogs, my accounts, my online presence. I started to question the merits of trying to be “authentic” and vulnerable online when in fact there is such an inherent artificiality to the process.
But then I thought of all that I have gained through being connected online and through Twitter. As I have mentioned previously Twitter and blogging have helped me to connect with some incredible people, make genuinely friends and achieve things that would not have been possible without it.
And so I am not throwing out the baby with the bath water.
The world of Twitter and online connection is not inherently bad.
The fact that I am trusting and want to help others is not wrong. That is what being a caring human being is about.
But sometimes others act in ways that are abusive, unkind or hurtful and when that happens we need to acknowledge it, call it out for what it is and fight back by being even more ferociously caring.
So if you want to connect or need a virtual hug, I’m still here.