So 4 years ago, I had some drama in my life, I tried to kill myself, and I spent a week in the psych ward. I briefly skimmed the linked posts, but they’re really long (like 20 min reads each, according to Medium), triggering, & I have to go to work soon.
What I know I only touched on in those posts is that internet bullying played a part in my decision to end my life because I’m bipolar and anxious, and my lying brain leeches onto All Things Negative, so the bullies’ comments became my inner monologue and they played, in a loop, through my head, every single day until I couldn’t take it anymore. They said I should kill myself and after years of silently listening to this warped soundtrack, I agreed.
It wasn’t just one bully, it was all of them. I even knew that there were sock puppet accounts (alternate social media accounts by the same person) egging on real accounts and making it seem like there were more bullies than there were, but because that was just a theory, my brain couldn’t accept it as fact, so all of those sock puppet accounts counted as individual voices and they were saying terrible things about me. They were taking old Live Journal posts I’d made and quoting things out of context to make me seem like a liar, a bad person, a bad mother, with a bad marriage, and that because we’re naturists, we must also be pedophiles. They also said I was a bad artist, which I didn’t care so much about because “everyone’s a critic”. Somehow that one was easy to dismiss. The rest though, became poison in my brain, and I began shrinking from the internet.
Me, the person who saw promise in the movie Stephen King movie, “Lawnmower Man” and wanted her subconscious uploaded to the internet after she died, shrank from the internet. I locked down my Live Journal so the posts they were taking out of context couldn’t be linked to and I stopped posting there altogether. I stopped posting on and updating this site. I stopped saying everything that popped into my head on Twitter, and started self censoring like crazy. With every creative thing I did online, I would think in the back of my head, “how will this be used against me?” and if I could conceive – realistically or unrealistically – of it being turned against me, I simply didn’t put it out there.
I started a Patreon and only posted personal things there, as patron only posts, because I figured if someone was gonna give me $1/month to read my posts, then they probably weren’t doing it for the purpose of trashing me elsewhere, and even if they were, well, thanks for the dollar. I figured if I saw evidence of that happening or if it affected me, I’d just raise the price on those types of posts as a troll deterrent.
On Twitter, I began only retweeting black, Indigenous, or people of colour, or people whose tweets were saying the same things that I wanted to say only they had bigger followings and could absorb the backlash for saying it better than I could. Eventually I stopped having original thoughts to tweet on Twitter at all. True story. I was an early adopter of Twitter, this should have been my domain, but here I was trying to make myself as small as possible on the platform, and trying to attract the least amount of attention, while still maintaining a feed for my own informational and entertainment purposes.
Facebook has always been locked down. I made a decision when I made my Facebook account that it would be a protected space for family and good friends only, and I even took the option to send me a friend request off of my profile so random internet people didn’t try to add me. What changed though, was that because I had this insanely negative narrative going through my head 24/7, I started thinking my Facebook friends thought the same things. I started thinking that some of the people on my friends list were only friends with me because they were nosy and they wanted to judge my life and they were probably on a forum or private Facebook group, sharing screenshots of my friends only status updates and trashing me. I became super paranoid and super private compared to how I’d been living my life online up until that point.
I never used to back away from conflict, I used to be the kind of person who ran into conflict head on, but when you’ve had as much conflict as I’ve had in my life, I think eventually you just learn to fear it and try to avoid it as much as possible. Then when it happens, you’re completely unequipped to deal with it, and the cycle begins anew.
So, I essentially became a ghost online. I was around, and some people who have been following me since the beginning still followed me, but everyone else lost track of me, found new internet heroes. Then social media became this even more massive thing and people I never imagined would be on Facebook, were suddenly on Facebook. Then Facebook became the only site a lot of people went to. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram was basically their whole internet because they were primarily using their phones for internet purposes and those apps functioned better one phones than say, a WordPress comment section. So people stopped going to individual blog sites like mine. A lot of people I know just shut down their blogs and personal websites because no one was going to them, everyone wanted to read about their friends all at once, in one central location, and as far as professional activities went, LinkedIn started being taken more seriously.
There just wasn’t a point to people having personal sites anymore. Not for most people anyway. Even people who were “internet famous” within the last several years usually didn’t start out with a website. They started out with a social media account, or a Medium, Twitch or YouTube account. My site existing for 20 years is less impressive than a social media influencer’s blue Twitter verified check mark, for example.
And lookit what even happened to web design anyway! When I was creating websites from scratch, I feel like we were all a lot more creative than the web design you see today and that’s because people got lazy with content management systems like WordPress and Drupal, and now they’re even lazier with Angelfire clones popping up like Wix and Squarespace. All 4 things I just mentioned are fine, btw, I just wish people would find more creative ways to use them, me included. I don’t know WordPress or CSS to save my life, but I’m okay with learning if I want to desperately change something on my website to make it more creative, which I’m sure I’ll do over time. (Especially since I wanted a black background, but the theme won’t apply it for some reason? And their customer service is garbage?)
What changed, as far as web design, was that suddenly all websites had to look good on all devices, not just computers, which made designing them more of a challenge. I’m not super into web design so I can’t say much more than that, but with the prevalence of smartphones, websites started looking a lot less detailed, and the people you never thought would be on the internet in 2003 were now on Facebook.
So I stopped updating this website and started only posting on Patreon and friends only on Facebook, and as I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, when I tried to combine the two, it was like oil and water. When I posted links to public Patreon posts on Facebook, no one would even comment on them on Facebook, where it wouldn’t cost anyone anything or require them to sign up for Patreon, so I started thinking my friends didn’t care about me, or my art, or my writing anymore and I may be correct, I guess we’ll see.
Eventually I stopped posting original status updates and content on my personal Facebook page even friends only, because every time I wrote anything in the little status update box, and even still now, I’d read it and think, “no one cares about this, there’s no point in posting this,” so I delete it and rarely post anything. When I did post original thoughts and content, so few people responded that it just confirmed my negative thoughts about my so-called friends and Facebook. Part of this is how algorithms work on Facebook and a lot of people just didn’t see what I was posting, but there’s a human element to it too. If I want to know how someone is doing or what they’ve been posting, I do this CRAZY thing and…go to their profile. I know, it’s nuts, but I do it, because I care about that person.
Now, I only go on Facebook when I’m really bored and want to see clever memes, which is not a daily occurrence, because I don’t get enough interaction there. I much prefer chatting with people on Discord in real time, the way we used to use IRC. The interactions are much more meaningful and honest, in my experience.
Blake keeps saying that if I want my art to be successful, I have to attract new eyeballs and this website is a part of that. I’m not gonna shrink from the internet anymore, I’ve decided. It’s gonna be a slow process, but I’m hoping to develop this website into…something. I dunno what, but more than it is now. I’m not going to allow comments, but let the social media comments section when I post links to original content there be the comment section because anyone can make up an anonymous WordPress comment, so it’s prone to trolls, but if someone’s comment is connected to their real name and real info on Facebook, or they have a Twitter account they’re particularly proud of, I think they’re less likely to be a dick.
Something that’s occurred in the past year that’s sort of notable, is that on Twitter and Instagram, I’ve had accounts follow me, and then they comment with things like, “wow! I used to read your blog 20 years ago!” so I think there’s a nostalgia element happening on the internet right now and I want to still be here, ready for it. Those old eyeballs from people who lost track of me are actually new eyeballs, if ya think about it.
I’m still gonna be posting the more personal stuff on Patreon and distributing colouring pages there and generally talk about my art there first, before I talk about it here because I don’t know of any other way to distribute colouring pages and I like patrons only posts.
What will I do when the inevitable trolls come out? Block them on social media. They’re probably still out there. I stopped googling myself years ago because knowing what the trolls think about me is too impactful to my bipolar disorder, but if somehow I did see that kind of thing again, I’m in therapy now, so dealing with it will be theoretically easier.
The internet also changed a bit for the better since I started my QuietGrrrl act. I see more and more people becoming various levels of “woke” every day and being more accepting of “other”, which is a good thing. Of course we’re all learning, I know I still am. I was shocked at myself when skimming the Medium articles I linked at the top of this post because in one of them, I used the word “retarded”. I said I was afraid of overdosing on my psych meds in case they left me “retarded”. That’s not a word I use anymore in my daily life and hasn’t been for a long while. I could have said “mentally challenged” or “mentally damaged”, given the context, but for some reason, back then I chose that word. I didn’t go into the post and change it though, because that would make me hypocritical I think? That post was a snapshot of that time, so I figure it should be left, if only as a reminder that everyone makes makes mistakes.
A post I made 10 years ago about growing up in a mostly socialist country was super controversial at the time, and I can only imagine how controversial it would be now. At the same time, I think there are a lot more people on the internet supporting people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than I think there were back then because those types of people either didn’t exist (AOC was probably still in high school when I posted that!) or they weren’t mainstream enough for my audience to know about them. Very few people “got” that post back then, but now, regardless of which side of the debate you’d be on, people are more educated on what socialism is and how it works, so I think at the very least, more people would “get” that post now because articles like those are now more mainstream.
I feel like people are more aware of “safe spaces” and mental health in general and without comments on my site or googling myself, I think the internet is a much softer space for me than it was many years ago when my bipolar and anxiety disorders were less understood (by me/us) and less under control. Then again, I’m drawing pretty girls and photographing cupcakes, so I’m not exactly posting the most controversial, personal stuff, in my opinion. Not publicly anyway, that’s what Patreon is for!
Right now, no one is going to my site because as far as everyone knows, it’s not being updated. I haven’t even told my patrons in Discord yet really what I’m up to. I haven’t even really told Blake either, but he’ll be supportive. I mean, it’s not a big deal that I’m just going to start posting on my website more often and not that many people will care. No one’s going to come to my site every day and check for updates, I’m not that popular (or naked) anymore. I’m going to have to work, again, to build an audience, a community for myself, pretty much from scratch, by posting links to my site all over social media and hoping that people will follow the breadcrumbs and think, “hey! I remember you!”. In the end, I’d rather be read – anywhere – than ignored, which is how I’ve felt the whole time I was only posting on Patreon.
I hope to be more interactive and engaged with my audience than I ever have been before, through posting more public content on my site and playing games with them. I played the “if you build it, they will come” game on Patreon and lost, so hey, let’s try it here instead, because…well, I have no other ideas. I mean, the goal here to to be read, not make a million dollars (although, if any fat cats out there have a spare mil to slide my way, that’d be great, thanks).
So, keep an eye out on social media for links to my site from now on and I hope you’ll join me on this journey to reclaim my space on the internet and in the world at large as I beat back fears in the dark, one by one, until I reach enlightenment…or whatever the fucking goal of this whole stupid life is!