Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday, 29 March 2013

#Tweetyour16yearoldself or I Said I’d Never Write about My Bi-Polar


I belong to Twitter, in so far as anyone does. I am not good at it, though. I’d love to be, but I don’t have the time, and I don’t understand the rules.

I follow people, and people follow me... Not many, to be fair. I plug my blog, and, once in a while I’ll speak to someone.

I don’t do lists, mostly because I rely on avatars to sift through and read the people whose opinions I want on any given subject on any given day, and I didn’t used to do hashtags, although, clearly, they’re a good idea.

The other day I wrote a blog that was important to me, and, since it was prompted by a call to arms on a number of social networking sites in support of equal marriage rights, I thought I should use a hashtag when I plugged it on Twitter. There was a hashtag for precisely the cause I was celebrating, so I used it.

Naturally, having used a hashtag, I began to notice others. One of the most common on my feed was #tweetyour16yearoldself.

I’m just going to digress for a moment on the general subject of Twitter and the art of the tweet. By now, most of you know that I’m bi-polar, and, as a result of that, I’ve developed a vast number of coping strategies that get me through stuff, which, frankly are going to make me seem pretty OCD... or, maybe I’m pretty OCD, too, anything’s possible. Most of the stuff I get through is ordinary, every day, insignificant stuff, and most of my coping strategies aren’t remotely dramatic or even noticeable, and most of the time you’d never know. New things freak me, just a tad, sometimes, though, and I invariably adapt strategies to get a handle on them. 

Once upon a time, Twitter was a new thing. One of the things I do with new things is play by the rules as writ large in my head. So, Twitter-wise, my tweets were 140 characters, exactly. I did not allow myself to skip punctuation or abbreviate words. I didn’t allow one tweet to turn into two, or more, either. I’ve been on Twitter for a while, now, and I’m beginning to adapt. The 140 character rule went fairly quickly. I still punctuate, but I will abbreviate words if I absolutely have to. I add links, now, and will run on, if necessary, although I don’t much like to.

Can you begin to see why I might have trouble fitting hashtags into the whole OCD thing?

There’s the hash to start with. There’s the fact that the words run together without spaces, and there’s the simple fact that hashtags leave less room for the actual tweet. Then, of course, there’s knowing which is the ‘official’ hashtag for the group you’re trying to belong to... It’s a whole thing, and one that’s bound to trouble someone like me.

When it comes to official things that I’m involved in, or invited to do, when I’m live-tweeting from an event, for example, I can usually manage without too much trouble, not least because there’s generally an actual official hashtag that is handed down from somewhere on high and from which I dare not deviate.

#tweetyour16yearoldself isn’t that, though, is it? #tweetyour16yearoldself is supposed to be fun. 

Fun can be a problem all of its own.

Firstly, #tweetyour16yearoldself is twenty-three characters long, leaving only 117 for the tweet, or 116 if you count the space before the hashtag, which, obviously, I do. Then there’s the form of the thing, the intent, the etiquette. It appears, to me, to be this: #tweetyour16yearoldself tweets should be funny, charming, sad, apposite, virtually universal, a little self-deprecating and not too serious.

I tried out one or two of my possible #tweetyour16yearoldself offerings on myself. I looked at them and I realised that, if I was going to be truthful, and I struggle not to be, this hashtag is not for me. I have not had this sort of life. I cannot be funny... and I really should have known this because the dort has told me often enough... and I cannot be charming about myself in retrospect. There appears to be nothing universal about my experiences; I am not, by nature, self-deprecating; and some serious shit, or, at the very least, some shit that seems to me to have been pretty damned serious, has affected and continues to affect my life. My stuff that’s sad, when I try to look at it through an objective eye, appears to be heavily laced with the sort of pathos that puts onlookers in a terrible position, and apposite has almost nothing to do with anything.

As it turned out, I completely understood why and how other people were, and are, able to do #tweetyour16yearoldself tweets; I get it, but when it came to formulating tweets of my own, in this category, I couldn’t come up with much that wouldn’t either make me look like something I’m really not, and I’m not looking for pity; or something that wouldn’t just terrify people.

I can’t change what has gone before, and the people around me apparently couldn’t do anything to help me change it. Sometimes, that’s still tough, but that’s probably pretty close to the truth for a vast number of us.

I love the ordinary, complicated lives that people have, full of misery and happiness, and I love seeing the evidence of those lives in my FaceBook feed and on Twitter; why else would I take part in social networks? #tweetyour16yearoldself is a kind of celebration of everyman; it’s a way to shake hands, to recognise one another, to bond over shared experiences, shared lives, the stuff that glues us all together. I recognise that stuff, and we should all glory in it. 

I also know that some of us are on the outside, that some of us sit on the other side of a glass wall, that while we recognise those lives, we can not share those experiences, those thoughts or those feelings in our own lives, our own existences.

We aren’t the same as other people, although, heaven help us, sometimes, we wish we were. That’s OK, but it limits our ability to share, because we’re never sure that we want you to recognise us, or that if we do share you’ll be able to recognise us in a way that will matter to you or be meaningful to us.

I’m going to share this for those of you who might understand, and not to make the rest of you sad, or to make you feel the pity for me that I have no earthly use for. You can always look away.

If you want my #tweetyour16yearoldself, here’s what it boils down to:

Yes, it will always hurt this much, and no, you won't ever get used to it. Take the meds.

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