A Missive From Exile

A Missive From Exile February 26, 2024

a wooden tic tac toe board with red X's in it
image via Pixabay

 

I had another post planned. It would have been a beautiful post. I’ll try and write that one later, I promise. First I’m going to be a grump about social media.

You may have noticed that there are a lot of trolls on Twitter, which I still refuse to call X, lately.

The place is inundated with trolls, so much so that I’ve started humming Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” every time I log on. All of my posts get instantly jumped on by attractive young women with water droplet emojis in their names; they promise me “p*ssy in bio” but when I go to their bio I don’t see any cats. I can’t have a serious conversation with anyone without loons with Vatican flag or three-bar cross emojis calling me “s*d*mite” and “heretic” in my mentions and talking about how I need to be burned. I get a lot of ableist trolls with smarmy pictures of White Ultramontanist Jesus in their news feeds calling me “r*t*rded” and making fun of my weight and wrinkles, my autism and my chronic illnesses, if I say anything they don’t like.  Several times a week, I get a person with a drawing of a frog for a profile picture, whose entire feed is full of hair-raising conspiracy theories and calls to violence, accusing me of being part of a Jewish conspiracy– for the record, I am flattered that he’s mistaken me for one of my dear Jewish friends but I don’t have the honor to be Jewish and I don’t own a space laser either. I have given up reporting these trolls, because nothing ever happens when I do. I’m always told they didn’t break any rules and I should just block them. And I am far, far from the worst victim of trolling; my run-ins with Twitter sociopaths tend to be mild. I regularly see friends of mine complaining that they got death threats. The threatening trolls aren’t banned either.

I can’t just leave Twitter. I need the place. Not enough to curry favor with its new owner or to call it “X,” but I really do need it. I don’t just blog at Patheos, I’m honored to be regularly sharing my thoughts at a real newspaper now and working as fast as I can on other writing projects to make ends meet, but nowadays nobody sees your writing projects or hires you to do more if you’re not a “content creator” on social media. You can’t just be a writer, penning stories by candlelight and mailing them to publishers like Jo March, you have to be a content creator. No one wants to publish people who don’t already have a social media following, with all the trolls and cat lovers and conspiracy theorists that entails. And I still do get a check for clicks on my blog as part of my living, and another giant chunk of my living is still gratuities in my tip jar from readers who like my content. I have to put on a show on Twitter to get paid.

Yes, I also have a bluesky account and a Threads account, but I don’t even have a hundred followers on those because everyone’s on Twitter. Twitter still has a corner on the goofing-off-in-public-so-people-read-your-writing market. I have to put my waders on and go dance around in the open sewer, or I don’t pay the rent.

Anyway, it’s been particularly foul lately.

The noise just seems to be increasing as we get further and further into Primary Season, not surprisingly. Yesterday I got taunted by a very strange person who thought it would hurt my feelings to call my blog names. I especially enjoyed when they boasted that they got straight A’s in Voyages in English at the Catholic school as a child and homeschooled their children who now have Masters’ degrees using the same texts, and then followed up by saying “you’re blog sucks.” If they really went to a Catholic school, Sister Mary Patrick would have boxed their ears for that bad grammar.

Last night I tried to go to Mass inside the church instead of sitting outside in the porch or in my car and praying along. It didn’t go well; I had another panic attack and ended up dropping my phone and breaking it. I told that story on Twitter because I often share things that happen to me on Twitter. I’ve never had any success in anything in life except with being honest about myself. Mary Pezzulo is the only person I know how to be.

A concerned troll responded in the worst possible way: “Sometimes PTSD is really a spiritual ailment. I say think in genuine concern and charity that you may want to try to find a traditional priest who can offer a deliverance prayer and blessing for you. I say this not only from concern but also personal experience.”

My longtime readers know that this is just about the worst possible thing you could ever say to me. The lie that mental illness is a “spiritual ailment” is a great part of why I have PTSD. I could go to Mass without panic attacks if I’d never come to Steubenville where deliverance prayer charlatans prey on everyone. I firmly believe that all exorcists are con artists and I am extremely sick just thinking about the havoc they wreak for their victims. I would rather rip my skin off than be in the same room as a snake oil salesman who peddles “deliverance prayer” again. I don’t even like to think about it. The Charismatic Renewal is from hell.

I lost my temper and tweeted at the troll to “go jump in a lake.” I was under the impression that no one would take me literally because “go jump in a lake” is just a silly rural colloquialism that everybody knew. I think I first heard it on Sesame Street in the 80s.

Apparently Twitter has different sensibilities than Jughead and me. Within thirty seconds, my Twitter account was locked.

I was told I’d broken the rules and that I could dispute it or accept my punishment, but the notification didn’t tell me what I’d said wrong or what my punishment would be. It said that by clicking “accept” to an unknown punishment for an unknown sin, I’d forfeit my right to an appeal. But there wasn’t any button to click except “accept” that I could see. Maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough. I clicked “accept.”

Twitter then informed me that I’d broken the rule against violent content and inciting violence by saying “go jump in a lake,” and I was now banned from posting or liking anything for six days and twenty-three hours. If I continued to be violent, my account would be deleted.

That’s a huge chunk of my income and ability to work gone for a quarter of a month.

I was actually about to finish getting the car fixed this week and I need to replace that phone.

I’m just a little bit frustrated.

Anyway, I will be on Bluesky and Threads and the public Steel Magnificat Facebook page a bit during my exile, or should I say my X-ile. Don’t try and send a friend request to my personal Facebook because that’s just for talking to people I actually know and I don’t take friend requests I don’t recognize.  I’ll probably drive my beat up jalopy out to the state park to look at the first wildflowers more than I would have done otherwise. I might even resurrect my Tumblr or my Post dot News, though I don’t think anybody’s been on those in months. If I had a phone I’d put Instagram back on it.  If anyone wants to help me out, the best thing to do is to get on your own social media and talk about how much you like my work and how scandalized you are that I’m in Twitter Jail.

And if Elon Musk happens to be reading this post, I would just like to say: go jump in a lake. But not literally.

Also, “X” is a stupid name.

 

 

 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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