A Break-Up Letter
Sorry, Twitter, it's me, not you.
Actually, it’s you, not me.
Our relationship began in January 2020. I’d recently finished my trilogy, and—as I do every time I embark upon a new project—I went to the library to do research. Returning home with scores of books about the publishing industry, I set about to figure it all out. Writer’s Market, a book suggested to me in college as the best place to find agents/publishers, encouraged me to join Twitter. They said it was one of the best places to find potential agents and industry professionals. Having spent the last few months in an introverted state, writing in my cave and hissing for snacks, I was hesitant to get back on the wagon. But I gingerly signed up, using an old pic I had from the previous year. I followed some agents, libraries, and publishing houses, and things seemed fine.
Do you remember our first date?
I tweeted simple things I hoped wouldn’t upset anyone (I’d heard horror stories of writers getting blacklisted and canceled over controversial Tweets), and soon, I found peers. I was immediately intrigued—I was the only writer I knew in my social circles, and here were thousands right at my fingertips. They understood things like writer’s block and the weird mood swings creatives go through. I felt exhilarated at the possibilities. I made a host of friends and gained a bunch of supporters whom, at the time, I believed to be authentic. I stayed out of “writers lifts” (I’d heard that was a way to get nowhere fast) and focused on engagement and having fun. My numbers grew and grew. But like every relationship, the butterflies and thrills of the first few months wore off. As soon as I decided to stop querying and develop my publishing company (Quill & Crow), I quickly learned that the “authentic” friends I hoped I’d found were few and far between.
Dealing with everything from men who pretended to like my books to hook up with me to people wanting to use my free labor for their own benefit, I quickly realized that things were not what they seemed. The more followers I obtained, the more drama I saw. I learned new terms like “Twitter Crushes” and “outrage farmers.” I saw people who pretended to write erotica just to dive into women’s DMs to sext next to their oblivious sleeping wives. Poets who used pretty words to score dates. It felt like some weird writer’s high school on crack.
Around this time, I started to share selfies, something I’d done on my private Facebook but was hesitant to do publicly. It was a blurry pic of me with no make-up on and a writer’s t-shirt, my hair tucked into a baseball cap. Surely no one would care, I thought.
My jaw dropped when I saw the likes and the subsequent influx of followers. I thought I’d struck gold. I continued to post selfies along with my books/products, hoping to take some of that attention and apply it to Quill & Crow. It worked a little, but my photos also started attracting the absolute worst type of people. Fans of deviances I’ve never even considered, here were deeply misogynistic individuals with porn addictions. To them, woman = sex object, and before I knew it, I was no longer a writer, just another pretty face to retweet and… well, I’m sure your imagination can fill in the gaps.
You have horrible taste in friends.
And still, I persisted, determined to make our relationship work. I was convinced I could make Twitter a space to easily promote my books and enjoy the friends I made. A place to talk and share ideas. Twitter is all about the algorithm, and, baby, this people-pleaser who loves puzzles and making people happy can work the hell out of an algo. So I pressed on.
And it paid off. I moved away from the perverts and the high schoolers and started seeing more industry professionals on my feed. I was thrilled to interact with others who owned small publishing companies, career authors, and big-time reviewers who were serious business. For a time, it seemed wonderful… until I realized how cutthroat it was. While I was grateful to be off the side of Twitter of bored, predatory housewives and “nice guys who wanna read your book,” this was a whole new ballgame.
Have I mentioned how much I hate your friends?
I’ve come to lovingly call it The Circle Jerk. For those of you lucky enough not to know, there are several cliques of top to mid-level writers/agents/publishers who stick together. They buy each other’s books, run in packs, and even have their own awards ceremonies so they can pat each other on the back. Like every proper hellscape, there are several levels: the main crew in the center, positioned so everyone may have ample space to fawn over them, and a surrounding, much larger group of wannabes.
While the main folks offer a cool air of superiority, the wannabes quickly expose themselves with their Tweets, letting you know how wonderful they think they are with every breath they take. But they aren’t just attention-seekers—they will cut your throat in a heartbeat if it means getting closer to the inner circle. Then there are those just outside the wannabes, desperately clambering for the approval of anyone who will give them a glance. These folks break my heart because many are just lost and looking for a home. They swirl aimlessly around the Twittersphere in limbo, wishing someone would magically descend from the Circle Jerk heavens and give them their time in the sun.
Now I tend to stand by the old saying, “Live and let live,” but the problem is, if you do not belong to any level of The Circle Jerks, and they catch you sniffing around their playground, you are shunned. You must exist quietly on the outside, and if you manage to succeed without them, they smile at you with clenched teeth and secretly blacklist you. Lovely people, really.
I was so close to calling it quits, but I gave you another chance.
My toxic relationship with Twitter was in a full flare-up. If I wasn’t trying to ignore the Circle Jerk politics the algorithm fed me, I was getting swept away by the agent vs. writer wars in traditional publishing. It seemed every other day there was a new outrage, people ganging up on each other like an even more vicious version of the high school I had just fled.
Fortunately, even with all these awful people ready to chop off the head of their writing bestie for the chance at a Golden Ticket that doesn’t even exist anymore, there were some really good people still hanging on. The indie spirit that drew me to the publishing world still beats strong in many. These writers know we all have to play the game a little, but we’re here for the art. For the love of writing. To stick it to the gatekeepers who keep getting richer. These are the folks I’m honored to publish and will fight for.
Then Elon happened.
My fellow Twitter transplants know the rest of the story. An unpredictable algorithm, shadowbanning, losing people you came to see daily, and a mass exodus or two. Soon it seemed all that was left on my page were horny MAGAs and sad, lonely types looking to troll. Even after surviving the Covid wars and various political upheavals playing out on Twitter, this was the last straw. After all this wasted time and energy, I had to face reality.
Our relationship was over.
I’m not sure if there will ever be a replacement for Twitter as far as the writing community is concerned. For me, once I’ve reached my boiling point and break up with someone, I don’t look back. I’m happy to report that in the short time I’ve been away, my mental health has improved, my productivity has soared, and I’m finally writing again.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m forever grateful for the connections I’ve made and the true friendships I built. I hate that I worked so hard at something meaningless. But lesson learned. I have always said the way to find success and happiness in this world is to remain adaptable. That means knowing when to walk away from things that no longer serve you.
And Twitter, it’s been a long time coming.
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