By Hannah Treasure
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a fascination with burying a diary in the ground. I used to imagine future scientists digging through centuries of debris to find lists of my ten-year-old crushes and hand-written Fall Out Boy lyrics as the only historical record of 2004.
I’ve since let go of the contributive diary obsession as my lasting impression upon this earth, and replaced it with Twitter. I made a Twitter account at first as a joke, going under several aliases – “drug Lorde,” “Toshiba Babe,” – none of which I think actually represent me. I would guess that only half of my followers know what I look like. The account should mean nothing to me.
But the semi-anonymity of my Twitter account makes it easier to explore parts of my personality I don’t actively use in daily life. It started with terrible drunk typos and Nicholas Cage jokes, gaining validation through favorites and retweets. Soon though, I started to make genuine friendships through these tweets, connecting with other accounts through the strangest corners of our brains rather than appearance first. Twitter takes away the initial barrier of physical self-image and forces you to judge someone only by their words.
My virtual self’s newfound support system later encouraged me to express beyond just jokes. I began to use Twitter as a way to say things in retrospect, especially about sexual harassment or catcalling – both of which feel extremely degrading, and in the moment, are often hard to respond to the way you want to. Walking home from class, a man catcalled me while I was simply drinking water, with some poorly conceived comment about how thirsty I was.
“Can I not drink water in public now? Please SHIELD all men’s eyes, I am too sexy letting my body survive!” I tweet.
In real life, I duck my head and hope no one heard him.
Tweets were a small way to get back at the shame someone had caused me. My virtual self was a more empowered self. The all caps self.
I’ve had this same twitter account for about four years now. Sometimes I treat it like an addiction, announcing dramatically that I need to “take a break” from tweeting for a while. I just, totally, can’t emotionally handle my feed right now. Or, I treat it like some monstrous plant I’ve been meticulously growing in my basement for years, and recently I’ve been growing with it too. The two selves merge when I am at my most confident.
Yesterday coming home from work a man began to follow me.
“I’m in fucking pajama pants and some asshole is trying to follow me home!!!” I tweet.
In real life, I finally yell: “Get the f**k away from me!”
Now whenever I look back through my tweets, I realize how much I change in the course of a month or even week – what I think is funny, who I frequently talk to, what I say or what I wish I would have said. It has become a record of self-growth; I am reaching toward Toshiba Babe’s confidence, 140 characters at a time.