On the Toxicity of Twitter & Authors Migrating Away

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of authors migrating their presence from twitter onto other social media platforms. Toxicity, doom-scrolling, mental health, and time-wasting are cited among the reasons. This raises the troubling question that if we, writers, find ourselves escaping a platform built for writing, then what does that indicate for and of the platform as a whole?

This is what I hope to partially unpack here, through the lens of existentialism.

I wrote my postgraduate thesis on Kierkegaardian and Sartrean existentialism. Kierkegaard and Sartre would’ve been all over today’s social media if they could. Social media is all about existentialism. About being perceived. It prays on your identity.

Existentialism understands identity as a process, as something that changes and develops according to the choices you make in life. On social media, groupthink robs you of your choices. Robs you of your identity. It leaves you in despair, as Kierkegaard would say. Despair arises when the self is unable to confirm itself. In order to become yourself, you must first conquer the negativity of not being yourself. You must face what you are not in order to acknowledge what you are. Otherwise, you end up in despair.

To me, this is often the nature of twitter’s toxicity.

Your choice, your identity, is robbed from you by groupthink.

In the writing community, there are specific accounts dedicated to spilling the tea and keeping you updated on the latest problematic discourse. You know, the thing that perforates your timeline, but you have no idea what it’s really about because it’s all subtweeting? Yeah, that thing.

That very unhealthy expectation, right there.

The writing community expects you to comment on every discourse that blows up. If you don’t, you’re an enabler, or a silencer, or a whole slew of other things. Now, there’s no doubt that enabling cruel behavior and that staying silent in the face of inhumanity is wrong (and I won’t go into what constitutes inhumanity because that should be obvious to everyone), but despite what the community expects, you can be on twitter without inserting yourself in every discourse that blows up. It’s okay to be on twitter and mind your own beeswax.

In an ideal world, you should be able to step away from a single discourse rather than stepping away from twitter as a whole to escape this despair. In an ideal world, groupthink should not result in a despairing self.

Lastly, we also shouldn’t discount how the pandemic has forced everyone to be online for different reasons than before. We’ve been forcefully overexposed to groupthink as a cultural consequence of the pandemic, so the toxicity has grown exponentially. The potential for our selves to despair has grown. I think we’re all feeling this, which means we need to be ever more vigilant about it.

So, don’t feel bad.

Don’t feel forced.

Don’t favor the group to the detriment of your own despair.

Don’t feel that you have to leave because you’re not “vocal enough” online. You can be vocal without doing it online, but let’s leave that discussion for a different day. Bottom line is this: avoiding toxicity in general is about building an awareness of how the toxicity works, so it can’t victimize you.

Build your awareness and you’ll build your defense.

You can start by engaging in critical thinking of online behavioral patterns, both your own and those of others.

(More) Commissioned Art for my Adult Fantasy

Maybe some of you remember my blog post from December when I finally mustered enough courage to commission art for my adult fantasy, The Deathsea Dyer (working title).

Here, friends, is MORE ART!

I don’t do things by halves, so when I do them, I do them (after way too much research, but that’s my Type A showing, so don’t mind that). Like I said in my other commissioned art post, I compiled a list on twitter of artists whose style I loved. More particularly, I wanted to find an artist with a style that matched the mood and aesthetic of my WIP. In this case, that aesthetic was color and whimsy. A fairytale for adults. Think Brothers Grimm meets Studio Ghibli. Even before I compiled that list, though, I reached out to an artist whose style I absolutely loved: @popcorncheek. Their service was incredibly safe and thorough, and when they weren’t satisfied with the first sketch they made, well, then they made a brand new one entirely from scratch. Without me requesting it. That, to me, is the sign of an artist who cares about their art. I initially picked them for their incredible skill in depicting lighting, and I’m so inexplicably overjoyed with how the commission turned out. Look at that lighting! Look at that color! Look at those lines!

And now go commission some art from @popcorncheek yourself!

(do not repost!)

Commissioned Art for my Adult Fantasy

For the longest time I considered commissioning art for my current WIP, The Deathsea Dyer (working title), but I always felt a little too… afraid of it, really. There was something truly daunting about seeing my characters be brought to life by other people on a visual level. Likewise there was something truly daunting about the process itself. The choosing of an artist, the working relationship and the payment process etc. Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m absolutely horrible at faceclaims for my characters. I had so much trouble finding reference pictures for the artists to work with, but in the end I’m happy I settled on the ones that I did.

I’m happy to say that I’ve finally conquered all of those fears – I HAVE ART!

I compiled a list on twitter of artists whose style I loved. More particularly, I wanted to find an artist with a style that matched the mood and aesthetic of my WIP. In this case, that aesthetic was color and whimsy. A fairytale for adults. Think Brothers Grimm meets Diana Wynne Jones. From my compiled twitter list, the first artist I reached out to was @lacunaorphic1 (ko-fi.com). The two headshots below are the final product of the commission – and I couldn’t be happier, from the very bottom of my heart!

What’s even better is that I have another commission in the works – and I’ll share it with you in due time…

Idah is a con-woman with a double identity and lifelong ambition to empty the king’s pockets.

Prince Eske is a stutterer-turned-polyglot, overlooked by his father until he teams up with Idah to steal a magical artifact.