Why I Turned Off Comments and DMs
My social media accounts have been on strict lockdown for the last few months. I’ve never known such peace.
I’ve been working on setting better social media boundaries lately. The more my follower count climbed on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, the more comments and direct messages I received —and the smaller the percentage of worthwhile messages became. Though I was accustomed to using social media to make new friends and hold enjoyable conversations about social and economic justice, neurodiversity, and whatever nonsense Grimes was up to next, my notifications had increasingly become a source of torment and stress.
I was getting Jokerfied, and fast. I could feel myself becoming less patient with redundant but entirely-good faith questions. Requests for information about my personal life were making me feel preyed upon and surveilled. And though I’m an absolute advice column addict and just started writing my own, I began downright resenting the numerous, highly intricate dilemmas and traumas complete strangers kept dropping in my inbox.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed that my social media habits were falling out of step with my anti-work, anti-people-pleasing ideals. A friend of mine, also named Devon, let me know that several highly active Instagram “mutuals” who were unfailingly polite to me were downright sexist and predatory to her. My partner observed that I was devoting a lot of energy to processing the emotions of complete strangers — energy my sensitive, easily drained Autistic self doesn’t come by easily. Some commenters criticized me for becoming too short-fused and snarky.
That last one really got under my skin. How dare my followers ask for so much free content, commentary, and support, then turn around and critique the tone in which I delivered it to them? Though each comment and message came from a unique individual with their own constellation of feelings and problems, I experienced my notifications as a coordinated barrage of demands. There were simply too many of them, and too little of me.
Of course, I was the engineer of all of these problems. I had decided to create social media accounts and post writing to them on a daily basis. It was me who kept my inbox open to…