My sense of identity and community have been challenged in multiple, overwhelming ways recently. I don’t know what to do about it.
Some personal events recently transpired, ones that made me extremely aware of my mortality. They’ve also caused me to reevaluate my self-perception as abled.
At the same time, two of my main sources of community grew too toxic. Twitter is the obvious one, the other being a Slack workspace I participate in.
It’s easy to pretend that your internet activities aren’t “real life,” but the loss of community—and resulting feeling of grief—is very real. These places have taught me countless things, as well as providing a ton opportunities. I literally owe my career and many friendships to these two spaces.
Twitter is the more difficult one to process, in that we as a society have never seen disability identity organize on such a scale before. It is difficult to disengage myself from these communities there, but I don’t think I can in good conscience contribute to the platform in its current form.
Having these sources of community suddenly cut off feels a lot like losing a sense you previously took for granted. It will take some time to get used to, but I’m not sure I want to get used to the feeling.
I also feel like I’m drifting from my core group of friends. Quarantine has been a compounding sense of isolation, and this massive, sudden loss of other lifelines only serves to amplify those feelings.
I’ve been flirting with Mastodon—Twitter’s heir apparent—for years, but it has yet to take. Its core architectural choices have some nasty, intractable consequences. I want to learn from people who aren’t like me, who have lived experiences different from my own. I want pleasant surprises and serendipitous moments. I don’t want a thin veneer of toxic positivity hiding structural exclusion.
A less depressed version of me might have gone for a hackneyed metaphor that tried to tie my feelings to aspirations for the Federated model. Current version of me, however, is tired.
Usually what I write tries to include actionable information, and decenter myself—I am aware that this post is a whiny, self-indulgent take born of a ton of privilege. It is also published on my own website. Not only can publish what I want here, it is also effectively the last stop for where I can place this sort of thing.
This all being said: A lot of these circumstances tie into some deep personal insecurities, ones I don’t think I’ll ever fully work through. Normally I think I could have taken one of these issues in stride, but it’s been too much all at once.
I’m sure new communities will eventually arise and mature, and I will find my place in them. In the meantime, I need to figure out who I am again. Part of this process is writing about it. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening and remember to be kind to yourself.