Alisyn Camerota: I joined Twitter looking to connect with people, do good, share my messages and build community
There is valuable dialogue there, but now that the reality of being on Twitter has become much darker, I'm leaving, Camerota writes
Editor’s Note: Alisyn Camerota is a CNN anchor and co-host on CNN’s morning show “New Day.” The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Dear Twitter (attn: trolls),
It’s over. I’m breaking up with you.
I know, it’s sad. We’ve been together a long time. Remember my first tweet in May 2009? “Happy Mother’s Day!” My God, listen to how hopeful I sounded.
Back then, I believed your promises – that you’d help me connect with people, that you’d be an agent for good in the world, that you’d get my messages out, that you’d help build a community. Back then, you’d surprise me with flower emojis and thoughtful comments. Back then, it was still thrilling to check in with you every day to see how many new followers you’d brought me. Those were the days.
But something’s happened to you. You’re a shadow of your former self, the one I was first attracted to. It’s no fun to be with you anymore. You’ve become mean and verbally abusive. In fact, you gross me out. You’re a cesspool of spleen-venting from people who think it’s acceptable to insult other people in public and anonymously.
I don’t mean to be harsh. Occasionally, you do let a nice, thoughtful person sneak through with a positive comment or constructive criticism. And I want you to know how much those messages have meant to me. It’s wonderful to get compliments – and you’ve certainly given me folders full. I’ve also appreciated the respectful disagreement from kind followers who have opened my eyes to angles and insights I hadn’t considered. For years, these comments made all the negativity worth it – especially coming from those users who stood up for me and fought the trolls on my behalf. God bless them. But I feel bad having others fight my fights. Like me, I’m sure they’re busy with jobs and children to raise and don’t have time for the hate.
Of course, some of this is my fault. I’ve been leading you on. I’ve made you think I like you more than I really do. The truth is, I haven’t cared about you for a long time – in fact, I’ve been avoiding you. I go weeks at a time without reading you, leaving you to prattle on thinking you have my attention – or worse, stew in your own nasty juices, yelling in all caps, imagining that I’m listening. But I’m not. I checked out long ago, when you became a buzzkill and a bore.
I don’t like thinking of people using you, typing away with nothing but a keyboard and a chip on their shoulder, but that’s the company you’re keeping. You’re hanging out with people who find satisfaction spewing vitriol, people who spread racism, misogyny, and anti-Semitism. Perhaps it’s worse than I know. Maybe you’re struggling with addiction: addiction to outrage. It’s a powerful drug. I wish I could help you kick it. I feel its pull sometimes too. But I don’t want to be sucked in. All I can do is save myself from the bitter dark places where you like to dwell.
So, I’m done. I’m moving on. I’m looking for something else, something real and lasting. Something that involves actual people, not nearly 48 million bots. I prefer my real friends over fake humanoids run by computers and true trolls filled with genuine venom. Call me old fashioned, but I like hearing viewers’ real thoughts, not the ones special interest groups pay them to tweet. And to the tens of thousands of folks who took time to follow me, I trust we’ll find a kinder place to reconnect.
So listen, Twitter, maybe sometime in the distant future, we can be friends again. Maybe you’ll become more thoughtful, and I’ll be excited to see your icon on my screen again. But I’m not hopeful. Until then, I’m logging off, killing my account. And know this – I won’t miss you for a second.