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Yesterday, an academic compared me to a Nazi or terrorist on Twitter. He said I don't believe in truth; we argued for hours. He repeatedly claimed familiarity with my work, identifying my MO as *oversimplifying* complex stories.

*looks at feed*
*looks at Proof of Conspiracy*

1/ I mention this because I've seen a few people saying lately that they wish I would respond to their messages (DMs, emails, mentions, comments, texts, letters, and other forms of communication). And every time I see such a comment, my heart drops and I feel absolutely terrible.
2/ At the time of the election, I think I had around 1,000 followers. I did not know what it would be like to have a lot of followers on Twitter and I had no ambition of having that. This feed unexpectedly took off when I posted a tweet about Kellyanne Conway on January 17, 2017.
3/ What I learned, soon after, is that Twitter can be...awful. I guess we all know that. What I didn't expect was the daily abuse. I mean scary, hateful stuff—coming in from every possible direction. Every day. Every day of my life. No matter what I do or say. It's soul-crushing.
4/ I'm not asking for sympathy. I don't have to be on Twitter. What I'm saying is I suspect many people with high-traffic accounts focused on controversial issues experience the same thing, and they ignore (as I do) something like 99.99% of it. But sometimes, it becomes too much.
5/ And then you respond. You're hurt, scared, tired, embarrassed, angry, bitter, alienated, confused... it's *bad*. It's not something you think will ever happen in your life. And so you respond. Usually it's an offhand quip or a little snark. But sometimes something cuts deeper.
6/ Here's how that works: people who in some cases have been stalking you for years, who've libeled you in the worst ways, who've casually compared you to a Nazi or terrorist or whatever like you weren't even human... wait for you to respond. And then they screen-cap. It's an MO.
7/ Your pain becomes *their* story. The screen-cap is always taken out of context and makes them seem the victim. If you block them, they tell the story of how they did something noble and you inexplicably couldn't handle it and blocked. It's always a lie. It's *always* believed.
8/ Every conversation becomes a chance to get trapped into anger or other low-level intemperance. It's a chance to be taken out of context and brutalized virally. And the people behind it are not victims, not even strangers... they hate you. They *hate* you like you're not human.
9/ All of us on here who want to be good people are in good faith trying to "be ourselves" via a medium that does nothing but distort and fracture our personas. That's bad enough. But the fear of participating in, and even aiding in, your own immolation of self is just too much.
10/ I also get hundreds and hundreds of messages a week and like all of you, Twitter isn't my job. It's not even supposed to be more than 5% of my life. I have responsibilities, as everyone. So I can rarely respond to folks and if it's something charged, am often a bit afraid to.
11/ On a few occasions, I've been contacted by people, or spoken about by people, I later engaged. At length. Hours. Thinking it a real conversation. Thinking it *real*. At the end, this person I thought saw me as human... made a screen-cap and posted it to try to annihilate me.
12/ Again—I don't want sympathy. I just want to say that not all those with high-traffic accounts expected/intended it. Not all of us are well-suited for it temperamentally. We're doing our best. Trying to help. We're deeply flawed. I hope you'll be understanding if you can. /end
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