Today on my break at work I sat in the kitchen area and scrolled through Twitter for ten minutes, as I usually do. I was particularly struck this afternoon by how much of my feed was made up of a particular kind of interaction; flirtatious back and forth, empathetic hugs and metaphorical hair- stroking, requests for and unprompted offers of emotional support. I don’t know why it stood out particularly today, because I’m pretty sure the expression of affection and love was no more overt than it usually is. I’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of affectionate boosting a few times recently, so I wasn’t surprised by it. But, in that moment, it did feel like I was seeing it fresh, for the first time, and it really touched me.
It felt like something rare, the way that members of the Twitter sex and kink community see each other- really see other. Whether that’s ‘my God, I love that bra, and also your tummy is cute’, or ‘you need support, and I want to give you that support’ or ‘your heart is dented, so I’m going to write you a poem rejoicing in your willingness to love’ or even just ‘fuck me, you’re fit’, there’s an earnestness to it, a lack of guardedness and a desire to connect, which makes my heart swell. It encourages people to open themselves up, to bare themselves. In a literal exhibitionist sense, yes, but also emotionally. You see newcomers to the community finding their wings, expressing previously unvoiced kinks, posting and posting and posting to their blogs. It’s kinda gorgeous, really.
I’ve been bouncing from internet community to internet community for more than 20 years now. I did my time in the messageboard trenches in the early noughts and I know that even amongst the most outwardly adoring bunch of lovebugs there’s generally a lurking thread of more or less noisily expressed bitterness and resentment. Where there are people there’s conflict. So I also know that there will be those whose experiences in this community are not in line with my starry- eyed Pollyanna burblings; people behave hurtfully, intentionally or otherwise, and personalities clash, and there will inevitably be fallout.
But I’ve realised something recently: having grown up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home, I find it incredibly difficult as an adult to deal with feeling invisible or unacknowledged. I knew this intellectually I guess, but that understanding has made a real head- to- heart journey lately. That desire to feel acknowledged is at the root of my exhibitionism and praise kinks, and the desire to be seen the reason why I write. So there’s something really nourishing to me in the knowledge that if you pitch up in this corner of social media in good faith, and say ‘oh hi, here I am’, eventually somebody will say ‘oh, there you are. Yeah, I see you’. They’ll say it again, and again, sometimes when the thing you need most in the world is not to feel invisible. And that’s incredibly precious.