Sexual harassment has been a feature of online and gaming communities from the earliest days of the internet. Until now, the abuse has been largely limited to verbal and visual messages, but as virtual reality technology becomes more immersive, the line between our real bodies and our digital bodies begins to blur.
Call it a social media stay-cation: I’m not shutting down my Twitter account, but I’m uninstalling the app
There are plenty of studies and books pointing out the many ways technology is damaging the way we live our lives. We’re less connected to our kids, we’re attached to our screens, we’re burned out. Every year around this time you read another treatise about someone who has taken a long hiatus from the internet just to get some peace, quiet and perspective. I’m not quite ready for anything that serious – and hey, I work on the internet – but I am desperate for a change.
Writing on predominantly feminist issues brings out a certain … element, shall we say, in comments, emails, and on social media. And as resistant as I’ve become over the last 10 years by doing this kind of writing and public work, there’s a toll that comes with being told daily that you’re a slut, or a bitch, or that you should be raped all because you had the temerity to have an opinion and a vagina at the same time.
But taking my ball and going home isn’t an option – after all, this is my game, too. This is where I work and socialize, communicate with friends and colleagues. Why should I have to leave if I’m not the one behaving badly? Then last week, I came up with a more moderate solution than swearing off technology and comments sections: I took the Twitter and Facebook apps off my phone. It was glorious.
I know – hardly a huge sacrifice. But I’ve been shocked at how much of a difference it’s already made. I’m no longer “just checking” to see what people are talking about, only to come across some random person telling me he’d like to be my tampon for a day. (Yes, that is a real thing that happened.)
Since paring down my social media use, I’ve also become less likely to get drawn in to a conversation when I should be eating dinner with my family, or tweeting when I should be relaxing before bed. (There’s nothing worse for an insomniac than a flashing screen in your face, minutes before you try to get some shut-eye.) Less crap on my phone means more time for everything else.