Every time I go on Twitter and click the “connect” icon to see who is saying what to me, my stomach clenches and my neck tightens. I don’t like Twitter. It has become an open door for people who hate me to say terrible things to me, sometimes threatening things. It wasn’t always like that — there was a starting point for this and I’ll get to that in a moment. First let me say that getting off Twitter is not, in my opinion, an option. There are people who hate the phone, but they still have one. You have to have a phone. And you pretty much have to have a Twitter account these days, especially if you are trying to promote your work, or get word out about causes and issues you care about. I’m now a self-published author (through Amazon) and it would be foolish for me to pull the plug on Twitter. So I stay on it, I use it, I hope it will help me in my work…and I swallow the dread that comes up every time I go on the site.
Twitter used to be a friendly place for me. I posted book news, journalistic news when I had an article published; I posted news about the causes I’m passionate about, which pretty much always involve animals. And I got re-tweets, comments of support, interesting questions. I didn’t spend a lot of time on Twitter, but I appreciated it. That all changed in late September of 2013. After getting the same type of letter from my health insurance company that many others had gotten, telling me my plan was being cancelled and I would be rolled over to a more expensive one, I thought, Why is the president not speaking to us about this? This isn’t what he said would happen. I’ve written numerous articles about my disappointment in the Obama administration — on environmental grounds, on the president’s remove from the American people, his tardiness in addressing us when major events happen. So I expressed my disappointment again, this time in a tweet. I said Shouldn’t the president explain to me and others why we’re losing our health insurance policies? This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Not a terribly inflammatory tweet, right? Wrong. Someone, who I will not name because I won’t give him more publicity, who was not following me but somehow discovered this re-tweeted it to his 48,000 Tea Party followers, reminding them that I exist and they’re supposed to hate me. Thus began the war. I was told I should have been aborted (this from people who oppose abortion rights.) I was told I should commit suicide. I was called the c-word. I was called stupid, moronic, for not listening to my father (who, by the way, would be horrified by all of them.)
So, to “another mother for guns” and “proud Ak 47 owner” and all the others who are still sending me ugly tweets, this is what I have to say to you: I did listen to my father. A man you never met, a man you didn’t grow up with and don’t have a clue about on any kind of profound and truthful level. I listened to him when I was 10 years old and the woman at the ice cream stand was rude to him and he responded with kindness. As we walked back to the car he told me, “You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Maybe she just got terrible news. Maybe she doesn’t feel well. You still need to be nice even when people are rude to you.”
A link to this post is going to go on Twitter, as always. I assume I will still get ugly comments. And I will strive to rise up to my father’s lesson and assume that my haters are just going through really bad times in their lives. He was better at forgiveness than I am, but I’m working on it. Mostly because I never, ever want to sink into the darkness and the malice that have come across the internet into my home.