Twitter is a high school cafeteria, and I don’t know where to sit

When I started using Twitter at the beginning of this year, I started following a bunch of women who write for all the sites I admire. I could see this whole lovely support group of HelloGiggles ladies and Femsplain girls, with their matching hand-drawn avatars and their impressive follower counts. They shared each other’s articles, and they starred each other’s tweets. I was just starting out as a writer, and I wanted in.

So I followed them all, tweeted at them excitedly, and waited for the internet love to pour my way. And nothing happened.

Luckily, I have practice being an unpopular child at an all-girls school, so being rejected by this many girls at once wasn’t a totally new experience. At school, I used to watch the popular girls (the “cool gang”, I called them—which may have been partly why I wasn’t in it) and think their lives must be so easy.  I laughed at all their jokes, and listened to their stories; I knew about their boyfriends and their sleep-overs and their parties; I bought the same Pokemon cards and glitter gel pens and sticker books. I followed everything they were up to, but they would have had no idea I was even there.

Once I joined Twitter, I realised that my days of uncertainly scanning the school cafeteria for somewhere to sit were not behind me yet. Here I was, 24 years old, thinking I was pretty self-assured… and I was still following (get it?) a group of women who had no idea I was there.

I watched them send each other heart-eyes emojis and GIFs and compliments. Every #FollowFriday, they recommended each other, writing long lists of exactly who was in their club. And plainly stating that I wasn’t one of them.


Here’s the thing, though: those girls at school didn’t have the easy lives I envied them for. I mean, we were 10-year-old girls, which is bad enough. And the women on Twitter? Life isn’t straightforward for them either. As they started posting openly about their insecurities, I realised I didn’t need to be jealous of them—they were all muddling through just like me. And when I did catch their attention, they were more than happy to listen.

Twitter is actually nothing like high school. Sure, it’s a big intimidating room of people all talking at once—but this time, you’re allowed to sit wherever you want. Keep tweeting at the people you admire, and keep posting about what matters to you. Get more Twitter followers by playing hashtag games and joining in with big conversations. You might not always get a reply, but don’t worry, you’re doing it right.

Six months later—I’ve got a lovely list of followers, and one of the Saskia Keultjes avatars I so envied. We share each other’s articles, and we star each other’s tweets. I don’t feel like I’m leading the easy and glamorous life I thought Twitter would bring me, but I do feel that we’re all in this together.

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For your bookshelf: You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

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