Feminist writer and activist Lindy West left Twitter today after five years on the social media platform. The Shrill author, who’s adapting her memoir with Elizabeth Banks, posted a lengthy farewell to the limited-character forum—that’s nonetheless rife with “white supremacist, anti-feminist, isolationist, transphobic” users—to The Guardian, where she’s a columnist. West writes that using Twitter has always been a Sisyphean struggle, in which she was damned for responding to trolls and other hateful posters, and decried for “censorship” if she opted to use mass-blocking tools to keep her sanity/safety. So she reached the following conclusion:
I have to conclude, after half a decade of troubleshooting, that it may simply be impossible to make this platform usable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators.
But West says she didn’t quit the platform solely over the abuse she endured while tweeting about media, body positivity, and reproductive rights. That’s something she’s almost inured to at this point: “If I have learned anything from the dark side of Twitter, it is how to feel nothing when a frog calls you a cunt.” What West is protesting is Twitter having served as a “grand-scale normalization project, disseminating libel and disinformation, muddying long-held cultural givens such as ‘racism is bad’ and ‘sexual assault is bad’ and ‘lying is bad’ and ‘authoritarianism is bad,’ and ultimately greasing the wheels for Donald Trump’s ascendance to the US presidency.”
West’s departure comes a week after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked subscribers to tell him “What’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017?” When one user replied “[a] comprehensive plan for getting rid of the Nazis,” Dorsey claimed he and his staff are already rethinking their “policies and controls,” but so far, that work’s only resulted in expanded mute options.