I’m here today, talking to you all because of Twitter. Twitter gave me my voice. It empowered me to say the things that had been brewing in my mind. As I talked to people, strangers became friends. My opinions grew and changed as I spoke to people I would have never met in the meatspace, never found any way of connecting. I conversed, and I grew and I learned.
My voice felt stronger than ever, and just over two years ago, friends on Twitter persuaded me to start a blog. And so I turned the conversations I had had into a longer form. I got ever more feedback, especially from Twitter. And my opinions continue to grow, and I continue to learn.
I hear from people who are silenced. I hear from voices I never would have heard had I not joined Twitter. Before Twitter, people who were not like me seemed alien to me. Now they are not, and I am learning to ally with causes I had never given a moment’s thought to.
Twitter challenges the way things used to be on a vast scale. I’m just a woman with a blog and a Twitter, but I can share my thoughts and experiences with so many people. I can listen to people from all walks of life and educate myself. These are voices that once would have only been heard had a journalist taken an interest, and everyone had to hope for a sympathetic portrayal that only sometimes came. Those days are fading, the age of the gatekeeper dies, but it does not go gently.
I will not be silenced. So many people have tried. I get a lot of harassment. Misogynists and bigots who want to attack me for allying with people they despise want me to be silent. It would be easier for them if I shut up. And now, I am being told I ought to boycott Twitter and if I don’t I am in favour of abuse.
But what other medium is there to so swiftly challenge hate? There is none, and that’s what frightens the spiteful, the vicious and the vile. They want us silent so we can never be in a position to challenge them. And yet we do. We challenge them, and they will try ever-harder to shut us down, but they won’t win if we won’t be silent.
So no. I will not be voluntarily moving away from my precarious platform. I will not shut up, not now, not ever. I will not willingly concede to what those who would have me silent want.
I have a voice, and I am going to use it. And I have Twitter to thank for that.