Social media for fragile people
June 12, 2018 7:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I keep a diverse range of people on my twitter feed without risk triggering my own sexual assault trauma?

I have an ongoing problem with social media - I want to be engaged with people from a variety of backgrounds, particularly people from marginalised groups, but I'm finding it almost impossible to do without setting off a severe anxiety attack.

There are a few different ways that this can happen, but by far the worst one is trying to follow cisgender women on twitter. Not unreasonably, cis women want to talk about gender as it pertains to [my field] and the topic of sexual assault comes up even on their professional accounts. The problem I have is that I was raped by a cis woman some years back (when I still identified as a man, so I still think of it as having been raped by a woman while being a man), and what I find is that most all cis women have a tendency to think about sexual assault through a very specific lens, namely one in which the perpetrator is a cis man and the survivor is a cis woman. So they almost always conflate "supporting survivors" with "believing (cis) women" when they talk about this topic.

As understandable as this might be, all I hear when they talk like that is that even the "progressive" members of my professional community will reflexively side with my rapist instead of me, because the idea that women commit sexual assault just doesn't occur to them.

I've tried muting words (my mute list is ridiculously long at this point, but somehow it doesn't work), blocking a few specific people, I've avoided *any* discussion of gender or harassment in the hope that this stuff will disappear from my feed. I've shut down pretty much every social network account I have, I no longer read the news, I don't even participate in places like metafilter anymore. All I have left is my quasi-professional twitter account, but even there this stuff keeps. coming. in. and it won't stop. As a last resort I've started outright blocking anyone and everyone who talks about rape or sexual assault using language that would prioritise my rapist's hurt feelings over my bodily autonomy ... but unfortunately that's left me with almost no-one left on my feed except for a few white cisgender guys who never post about anything except work.

Because literally everyone else in my field positions white cisgender middle class women - like my rapist - as the primary victims, and the people in most need of our sympathy, and they won't fucking stop doing it and I keep having panic attacks.

I'm running out of ideas. Does anyone have any ideas about how I can manage this? I really don't want to end up with the proverbial "binder full of dudes" as my only social media connections to the world, but if that's the only solution that will stop people triggering my rape trauma then so be it.

I just... would like to hope there's a better solution.
posted by saltbush and olive to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You titled this "Social media for fragile people" and I have to tell you that I just don't think social media is healthy for people who are not super resilient. But if you're committed to your Twitter account, then it's OK to put your mental health before an abstract digital diversity ideal. If binder full of white guys is what works for you, then that's what it is. It's also perfectly okay to only post and read your @s and not read your stream at all.

I'm very sorry you were assaulted, and very sorry you're struggling. I hope you have support. I wish you well.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Sorry - I should have mentioned that I can't easily drop this account without shooting myself in the foot with respect to my job. I really do need this one. Literally everything else on social media I've already gotten rid of, but this last account is *supposed* to be for professional content. It's just that everyone else seems to think that mixing their intemperately phrased social justice content with their work is harmless, and it's slowly driving me mad.
posted by saltbush and olive at 9:27 PM on June 12, 2018

"...but this last account is *supposed* to be for professional content."

First, I think you need to really get some clarity as to what they are looking for with this regard. Are you supposed to be out there, in the world, actively engaging with others on your feed? If so, how much? This sounds vague and subjective.

If not, I would think about using your Twitter account as One Way Only, in that you post professional content - links to articles, blog posts, and other things that are specific to your profession, and move on. Think about how you can help others learn about it, as opposed to "small talk" about it.

I would check out a service like Buffer, where you can schedule posts in advance, at certain times of the day, and actually never have to go to the Twitter site, once you are connected and up and running. You can actually also see how many people are engaging with your content, which might be helpful in proving to The Powers That Be that you are making an impact on social media.

Be of service, but don't get down in the mud, and keep your sanity and your calm.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:55 AM on June 13, 2018 [7 favorites]

Yes, seconding to just post content and engage with the responses as opposed to getting sucked into the endless scrolling feed of nazis, melts, soyboys and whatever else is the new insult of the week!
posted by JonB at 9:26 AM on June 13, 2018

If you need to follow cis women for work reasons (so other people don't think you only follow dudes), you can immediately mute them and never see them in your feed. You can also make a list of "safe" people and never read your main feed.

Can you use keyword searches applicable to your field and only read those? For example, if it's civil engineering, maybe you have feeds for "city name + infrastructure," etc.
posted by AFABulous at 3:19 PM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

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