Up to now, my experience on Twitter has been pretty quiet. I only just this year hit 2000 followers, a number that a year ago seemed ridiculous. I enjoyed being a very small fish. I cultivated my follow list so I was generally always seeing tweets from the folks I was most interested in: indie TTRPG creators, fellow editors, actual play players I admire. It wasn’t perfect. Twitter often hid me in the algorithm so it was hard to get engagement sometimes, hard to find the people I really wanted to see without actively seeking them out.
But that was all okay. I was generally able to talk to the folks I wanted, on topics that mattered to me and them. If I thought about gaining new followers at all, I figured at some point down the line, maybe in a year or two, I might reach a respectable 5000 followers or so. Gradually, naturally.
Smash cut to Tuesday night. I posted the tweet pictured below:
Then I went to bed and thought nothing more about it.
Then, as you can see by the numbers, it went viral.
I spent pretty much all of Wednesday watching my follower count spiral up and up. At first because folks found my tweet through friends and friends of friends. Then the algorithm which had seemed to work so hard to fight me in the past, grabbed my tweet and ran. And ran, and ran, and ran…
I had 2146 followers before that tweet. As I write this, I have 19,542.
I really don’t know how to process it. On the one hand, I’m thrilled what I said resonated with people. I stand by it and you can expect me to keep talking about it. But it’s more attention on Twitter than I ever thought I’d have. It’s definitely more than I’m comfortable with. I’ve spent some time thinking about what I’m going to do, what’s going to change going forward.
The answer to the second part is, not much, at least as far as what I tweet about. I’m still going to talk about indie TTRPGs, local politics, human rights (I think each of the groups that followed me because of one of those things is likely to get sick of hearing about the other two, but I can’t help that). I also don’t plan to stop talking up marginalized creators in the TTRPG space. In fact, my next major personal project is going to involve talking about and with them even more.
I think if anything changes, it will be how I use the app. I need to be more mindful of what I draw attention to, for good or bad. Twitter has a momentum all its own, if I tweet that I think “X” is bad and discover later I was wrong, a whole bunch of my followers are going to steamroll “X” before I can stop them, because they trust my opinion. So I have to earn that trust every day by being purposeful and clear in what I post.
But I’m still the same nerd I always was. I’m going to share actual plays I love, creators I think need your attention, games you should bring to your table. I’m still going to work to be kind, I’m still going to send gatekeepers and bigots to the Block Party. That includes any of my new followers who act up.
As for how I’m feeling? Still overwhelmed, honestly. I never looked for this and I sure don’t think I deserve any of it. There are definitely people in the space that deserve this more. But now that I’m here, I have to deal with it as ethically as I can. My best way forward is to keep doing what I have been doing, focus my attention on helping to uplift as many other creators as I can and talking about the things I love.
And I’m still going to put my foot in my mouth, and I’m still going to make mistakes. Depression and anxiety are still a part of my life, and sometimes the bad brain days get the better of me. So I have to remind myself to extend the same grace and understanding to others that I hope they will give me. Twitter gives us the illusion that we know all the folks we talk with every day. In fact, we see only the portion they share. We don’t see all the joys kept hidden, the pain obscured, the fears and the heartache. I have hundreds of mutuals on Twitter; not counting the folks I know in real life, I consider maybe a dozen of those friends. Maybe they consider me one as well, but I won’t presume.
Okay, that’s enough introspection. If you’re one of my new followers, welcome! If you’ve been with me since The Before Times, also welcome! I promise we’ll get back to the tabletop nerdery you’ve come to expect from me very soon.
7 thoughts on “Blowing Up”
I’m glad to see your measured response to a surreal experience. I remember the first time I went viral in social media and how tizzying it was. I’m sorry that the space has transformed from something more intimate to another source of external judgment and performance but I hope that the value added by the audience size pans out to a net positive. I was one of the people who decided to follow based on your post and I’d be totally comfortable if you decide later to post saying “Hey, I appreciate the attention but I’m not really trying to be a public figure. I’ll be using this account to interact with a limited group of people.” -Best
Hi, new follower here, first of all, congrats for getting viral, indeed it was your tweet that made me follow you. I can imagine how weird it was, and of course, this is a dream for every introvert like me, one that sounds as difficult as hitting the jackpot.
It’s great to see the way you’re dealing with this sudden fame and I hope that you keep being your truly self, without the pressure of living up to random people’s expectations, that was the thing that has caused me to become the anxious self I was in the past, trying to please everyone until I realised that I didn’t live for myself, and I truly hope you don’t have to experience it ever. See you around.
Saw your viral tweet and it made me glad. But it was your coinage of the elegant and apt “Fuckity-bye” that made me a follower.
I salute your sophisticated and dignified use of fuck as a jack-of-all-grammar!
Men supporting women rights is always a cause for a follow. Thanks.
Thanks, though this affects anyone with a uterus, so includes trans men and gender neutral/fluid folks as well. We want bodily autonomy for everyone, after all. 🙂
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