We’re regularly told that we live in bubbles: on social media, in politics, living in built-up locations. It’s meant as an insult to suggest that we’re not as grounded as ‘regular people’. We don’t have a Pret a Manger in my town, therefore I’m not part of some supposed elite. Most of the debate around bubbles is constructed bullshit; a ruse proffered by reactionary commentators who decry progressive thought.
“You have Twitter? And you voted Remain? Why didn’t you just call yourself Elite McEliterson, you excrement.”
But this piece isn’t about politics, social standing or cultural ties. I want to tell you why Twitter saved my life.
I joined the site in May 2018 to follow politics more deliberately, instead of through news apps and broadcast news. My intentions weren’t to become involved in political writing and discourse. Indeed, I can remember being motivated by gaming and YouTube stars more than hashtags. But so strong was the clamour of Brexit that I couldn’t stay quiet. This wasn’t some moral high ground position I wanted to build — simply responding to stupid takes and bigotry, sharing my equally dumb views.
Never ever in a million and one years could I have predicted that in January of the new decade, I would have made friendships which would change my life. To give a rough prelude to this, I must tell you of my circumstances on joining Twitter.
Petals falling from a dead flower
In late June of 2017 I took an overdose with the intention to end my life. I was working full time at my university, studying my Masters, struggling desperately with money, and intolerably lonely. I’d left living with others to move into a flat alone, which subsequently led to my desperation to rid the world of my existence. Truly, I felt as though this world would live on better and stronger without my presence. I moved back to my hometown and suffered the rest of 2017 with a difficult family situation. I was a pox on their regular lives, with one person telling me I was tearing the family apart just four weeks after I had been in hospital.
In one public ‘intervention’ which felt more interrogatory, I was cynically attacked for not working or providing for my living. Apparently, “I wasn’t trying to get better”. We were sat in a pub waiting for food when this happened. I was told I was ruining my dad’s relationship with his partner, preventing his home to be sold, and generally proving to be a burden rather than a welcome member of a loving family. 2017 was the worst year of my life, not just my depression, but finding out that some of my family were so sour that I was a restriction on their happiness.
Me? Working full time after I’d tried to kill myself? I was continually at the gates of purgatory begging to be let inside. There was so little compassion and care, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
My sister, who’s my best friend and ally, was a beacon of hope for me. She seemed to be the only member of my family who didn’t hate me. I had wonderful support from friends too — totally non-judgemental. So in 2018, after a year from hell, I began to try and mend my life. That’s where Twitter stepped in wearing iron-bottomed boots and big grin.
Cheese, beauty and kitchen utensils
Between May 2018 and January 2020, I spoke with people from across the world on a daily basis. Some wore strange things on their heads, others didn’t. People can mock Twitter for being a fusty climate of armchair activists. For me it was like break time at school — leaving the pressures of my personal life to spend precious moments with people I like.
I’ve spoken and enjoyed the company of people from Ukraine, Italy, the United States, Canada, Russia, Liechtenstein, Brazil, Austria, Ireland, Finland, Japan and France. (Apologies if I’ve left anyone out!) It’s connected me to people I would have never bumped into on the high street, let alone have deep conversations with. A global network of genuinely lovely people. Sometimes, I still pinch myself looking at who I’ve made friends with. And they are friends too. I haven’t met the majority of these beautiful people, but by talking through Twitter I feel for the first time in my adult life, not alone.
Did I mention that these people are also utterly gorgeous and funny? Solid 10/10s all round.
The politics has been a huge part of my connection with these people. A shared set of principles defending the rights and lives of migrants, diverse communities and backgrounds, genders, sexualities and incomes. We are very woke, a totally wonderful thing. But I can look past the politics to see everyone’s personalities and stories. It’s not all about the best and worst of humanity with them. It’s sometimes silly, often saucy, always funny.
And deeper still, down this seemingly endless well of fluffy pink marshmallow-like kindness, is an incredible devotion to supporting people — including on many occasions, myself. There is no small gesture or comment which goes unappreciated. A like is worth a thousand kind words, bundled into being by warm healing hands. The food tweets are also pretty spectacular.
Professionally for youuuuu…
Gooey fluff aside, Twitter is also a place of enormous potential for growth as a creator. I didn’t expect to be writing for this long, let alone at all. And whenever a journalist or writer replies to my tweets, likes my moronic mutterings, or even takes a plunge to follow me, I feel genuinely blessed. I can’t describe it without allegory. It is as though a divine spirit or cosmic wave has sprung through the air to plant a peck on my cheek. The journalists and writers I follow are incredibly talented and accomplished creators. To be acknowledged by something as simple as a like is a reminder that I am still worth something.
It really does come down to that. In my view, Twitter is a support tool for those with anxieties and syndromes who struggle in their lives to find appreciation for their good work. It cements the decency in humanity whilst fighting the constant flow of ignorance from other accounts. It builds professional and personal connections to better lives. Ignore the hashtags and bigotry; find the love.
Try build your house with the shoddiest bricks. You’ll find your foundations are weak to the core. But make your mortar with friendship and kindness, and that house will stand for a few days more.
Thank you to the incredible people both personal and professional who’ve made my days brighter. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that they have saved my life. Twitter isn’t just a social network — it’s a meeting place for the best human beings you may ever meet.