I see my Twitter as a jumble sale that make up parts of myself.
You know my place of work, my boss, my colleagues. You see my food, my children and the paint marks they make on my walls. You see my face, my thoughts, my voice- even who my friends are, and how I spend my time. You know how I feel about the world, both teaching and beyond. I share my successes and my losses with you, not because of the action to share, but because it might help sometimes. There are layers, of course: I DM with you to give advice, or share. I hear you and respond when things are hard, or when I might be able to help. I hear you even when there’s nothing I can do. I build connections in those little boxes, and you become friends, and hear me when I might need your help too. My network is busy, and clustered, and eclectic. I love them all. I share with you in the same way I might share with a friend, because that is what you have become.
As we move into such an uncertain time, a time that has yet to be chartered for any of us, the lines should remain the same. And throughout and regardless, there’s an assumption of trust amidst the chaos and uncertainty of lockdown, and it helps us both to know how we can continue to feel safe and secure in our words, and views, and actions.
As our mindsets whirl in such a state of aggravated, easily influenced set of fluctuations, impacted by what might be such minuscule triggers, we need to admit: it’s a state of hypersensitivity. It’s exposing, and harder to rationalise or interpret, and it’s also hugely misleading because these exchanges, these discussions: they’re not within the framework of a ‘normal’ context. We’ve lost that template of normal, and are trying to ensure that we attempt to replicate it as effectively as we can, as we continue to talk to one another.
And that’s where my concerns lie.
Our conversations don’t provoke our usual reactions, in the usual way. We’re not acting as we would, or should. We’ve forgotten who our audiences are, and as the time in which we spend in solitude increases, inevitably, this will influence to what degree we are able to make good judgement. Healthy judgements. Judgement that we would have made, were it not for this odd time that we find ourselves in flux, limbo, waiting and desperate to get on with living. This is uncomfortable to acknowledge, but we are vulnerable. Vulnerable not only because perhaps our usual ability to reason starts to erode, but because we are reaching out to make connections in ways that we never had the time to make, and they’re not always good ones, or the right ways to do so. Furthermore, we are doing so as a pocket of the world watches, on an open platform with an audience, an audience poised to either hold you up, or see opportunities to satisfy their own vulnerabilities at a compromise to you.
Those ones that will be there, without gain, profit, motive, demand, intent will be your most valued possessions. Cushion your vulnerability with those few that reach out to encourage you in your finest moments when all this is over, but right now, will enable you to meet that craving for connection that we are all trying to temper. It’s easy to buy into the gimmick and promise of false regard that might make us forget where our lines were, but the shine won’t last, and the tarnish will soon appear. When we all go back to our day jobs, and the busyness of life again, they’ll still be there, and those existing and new friendships built on trust, empathy and mutual respect will endure alongside them.