Gemma Styles: How Twitter Became A Metaphor For My 20s
The Debrief: It was my seven year 'twitterversary' a few weeks ago - and how things have changed in that time...
It was my seven year ‘Twitterversary’ a couple of weeks ago (thanks, happy birthday to me) and that got me thinking about how my use of the platform has evolved over the years. Seven years is a long time. In a strange way it seems to have gone quickly, mainly since I still feel about 21, but when I think about how much my actual life has changed in that period… I got a degree, travelled, relocated to London, held down a job, moved house about five times, finally came to terms with my mental health, adopted my first (feline) child, moved in WITH A BOY. I’m not doing too badly really. This is cathartic. Hooray for me!
Anyway. In having a conversation about Twitter I realised that my life there has really been one big metaphor for my twenties. Let’s break it down…
Stage One: naive optimism
Ooh, hello, look at all these people. Your early twenties, and early Twit-ties, involve meeting a lot of new people. This is very exciting (slash anxiety-inducing) but it’s all going to be fine because you’re a grown up now and you can do what you like, so there. Hang on though because all these people you’re meeting are also meeting you… and they have opinions too. There’s a lot more going on in the wider world and actually, you realise, you really don’t know as much as you thought. Did school teach you anything useful?
Stage Two: fear and confusion
Beads of sweat form. Nothing is secure and what if you’re hacked and what is the interest rate on your overdraft again? Learning from mistakes you made in the blundering idiocy of your earlier years, you decide to be more cautious about things. Maybe you start saving some money for a rainy day. Maybe you stop hammering things into the wall of your rented house as you realise it isn’t worth the stress and paint-matching when you move out and you need your deposit back. Maybe you stop drunk tweeting about your night out at 4am on a Wednesday because your boss is going to see it. Maybe you decide to educate yourself a bit more - learning doesn’t actually stop when you finish uni after all, and you don’t want to offend people with an embarrassingly unenlightened tweet that you wouldn’t have worried about three years ago.
Stage Three: oh what the hell
You’re doing what you can, and you’re okay with that. You’ve got two factor authentication on, because you’re sensible, but you also can’t spend your whole life worrying about it because there’s too much else to do and that’s just no way to live. You’ve learned a bit more about who you are, which feels nice, but you realise it’s going to keep changing which is both exciting and tiring. Everything is tiring. What are the next big things going to be? A new haircut? A new platform taking over from Twitter? YOUR THIRTIES?!
As you may have guessed, I feel like I’ve just entered into this third stage. At 26, I definitely feel more self-assured than I did at 20, but equally new levels of self-awareness make me realise that I want to be better at things. J.K. Rowling didn’t release the first Harry Potter book until she was 32, so I’ve definitely got time to write something amazing that millions of people will love… but equally I’m a realist and would quite like a normal, medium, happy life, so I suppose I’ll just have to see what happens. In the meantime I’m just trying to be a better human generally, be nice to myself, be nice to other people - and use Twitter without worrying about it so much, but also remembering lessons from along the way.
What an indulgent metaphor that was.
Wherever you’re up to in this weird life cycle, if you don’t feel like you’ve done that much in the past few years I really recommend you make yourself a bit of a list. Even in writing this I’ve realised and remembered more things that I count as good accomplishments, including making incredible friends. Count the bad things, because you got through them and that's an achievement too, even if you don’t want to post them in a list on the internet. I wonder if we’ll all still be on Twitter in another seven years. God forbid a certain someone is still President, all international dealings will probably be tweets by then. Damn, swore I’d get through one piece this month without a reference… One more thing to work on.
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