Once upon a time, in the early days of blogging, back when you had to install software on a server to have a blog, I had one. It was required for my job as an admin for an academic computing lab. I hated it. I felt as if I had nothing to say and no one was listening. Which was mostly true in the beginning. But when I left the job, I kept the blog. It became a place for me to vent, and my venting in those days was highly political. I was living in Texas and then in Boston and I had a lot to say about both local and national politics.
But then life took a turn, as it does, and I started having trouble keeping track of even basic things. My epilepsy meds were failing, though I didn’t know it at the time, and I didn’t have the brainpower to keep track of bills or candidates, let alone write coherently about them.
So the blog went away.
When I got back to blogging, lots of things had changed. I had a new career, a new focus. And the Internet had changed, too. The trolls had invaded, and I had no intention of inviting them into my private space. So I kept my blogging to relatively innocuous—or so I thought*—topics, along with the occasional book review. (*It was during this period, when I think my work was probably as inoffensive as it’s ever been, that I garnered my one and only Cease and Desist letter. You never can tell what people will try to shut you up over, apparently. Which was when I learned that the only appropriate response to an out of line C&D is to post said letter. It was a valuable lesson.)
Nowadays, part of my consulting work is to talk to writers about marketing, branding, and social media. I always, always tell them to stay away from hot-button topics unless those topics are integral to their writing and they’re building a certain platform.
Over the past 24 hours on Twitter I have repeatedly ignored my own advice, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.
First and most obviously, because the topics under discussion—women’s access to healthcare and control of their own reproductive systems, and equal rights for LGBT folks—are near and dear to my heart. But there is more to it than that.
Twitter, I think, is a venue that seems fleeting. It appears as if you can drop your words into the Tweetstream and they will be carried away in a way they will not on a blog or even on Facebook. There’s a tendency to feel as if they will disappear.
Of course, they don’t. Indeed, if you say something particularly on point, that tweet may be retweeted by people with thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of followers. It may show up on someone else’s blog as a quote. It may show up on television as an example of the type of conversation people are having.
But when you’re on Twitter, you don’t think about that.
So last night I got called, among other things, a baby killer. (I’ve never killed a baby. Or even a fetus. Unless you count baby roaches. I have NO sympathy for roaches of any age.) And this morning I was told that I had ruined traditional marriage. (My husband says that’s probably true because I refuse to wear an apron and I hate ironing.)
But it’s all good. It’s nice to find that old voice and exercise it every once in a while, even if now it has to be put away again.