I’ve been meaning to write this piece for a week or so now but just haven’t been able to find the right words. I’ve decided to press ahead with it regardless, hoping that I can get my points of view and feelings accross appropriately.
I’ve personally been using Twitter for a while but I didn’t start to use it regulalry really until 2015. What I’ve found with social media in general is that there are both positives and negatives that go with every platform, and most people will have experienced both sides of the coin.
I have a lot to be thankful for where Twitter is concerned as it’s opened a lot of doors for me which has seen me get to where I am today in both my professional life and the things I do in my spare time such as charity projects and football related stuff.
However, I have encountered what some would describe as the darker side of Twitter too. I’ve been bullied, trolled and abused online, from fellow Sheffield Wednesday supporters in the main on numerous occassions, but I want to go a bit deeper into how this can make me as an individual feel, especially if I’m suffering from a bad bout of anxiety or low mood.
One of the first things to note is that nobody is perfect and I, as many others, have made mistakes in my life and this also applies to social media too. What I’ve noticed from a personal point of view is that when my levels of anxiety are low, or I’m not feeling what some would describe as depressed, it’s easier to perhaps shake off comments from online trolls.
This brings me to my first thought on the matter. Whether people are aware of it or not, I think at times it is school yard tactics. People go after the people they perceive to be the weakest, and with the stigma that goes along with men and mental health, I genuinely think there’s a perception that somehow these men are weaker or easy targets for trolling and online abuse.
Where Twitter is concerned, I feel when my mood is steady and the anxiety levels are low, I’m a very different person to when I’m suffering from low mood and higher levels of anxiety. Comments people make while I’m feeling what I’d describe as ok are easily batted off, often with a quip or a humourous response.
However, when the anxiety levels are raised or the mood is low, it’s a completely different story. I can only speak for myself where mental health is concerned as things do vary from one person to the next. One of the the first things I notice is that when I’m not feeling great, everything is negative, or perceived as negative, and this includes comments people make to me on social media.
It’s hard to gather how a person intends their comments to sound on social media, as they’re just words on a screen, but at times I happen to take harmless comments the wrong way. If I’m feeling okay, I often just presume they’ve been posted with good intentions regardless.
I also find myself being drawn into Twitter spats when I’m not feeling great either. While people may suggest to block or mute, and I appreciate these are wise things to do, I think sometimes it can be frustrating to hear this. In a way, people see it as some sort of victory to be blocked or muted by someone else, and in anxiety mode I don’t want to give them that satisfaction.
When people are being negative towards me, I can actually feel the anxiety levels rising inside me. It’s a very strange feeling and as people with anxiety will testify, it’s horrendeous too. It’s amazing how words on a screen can make you feel, and I often think of how the people sending them feel, and whether they get any sort of enjoyment from it all.
I was concerned writing about these things would leave me open to more trolling and abuse online, but I feel that there are loads of people who suffer online and as social media is an important part of people’s lives these days, I thought it was important to speak up.
I suppose what I’m saying is that I apologise if I have ever offended anyone by how I come accross online. Sometimes the anxiety and low mood drives me to be argumentative and somewhat negative. There’s a complete different side of me when I’m feeling ok, as many people will have noticed.
I think there’s a need for people to try and be more understanding of other people when communicating online. There are many people who suffer with some type of mental health issue who are active on Twitter, and while we may not be aware, I don’t think that not knowing is an excuse for trolling or bullying, or generally being nasty.
Maybe, we should employ a 5 second rule after typing a tweet or a reply, to ensure that it’s appropriate and couldn’t be taken the wrong way by anyone. While Twitter is generally a great place, I do think people could do more on a personal level to rid it of its ugly side, and this will be of great benefit to people online who suffer with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues.