As my Twitter platform grows, I’m starting to realize that many people who follow me, particularly those who don’t necessarily read my writing, would probably be pretty surprised by my personality if they met me in real life. That’s a big reason I’ve started live streaming on Periscope again after taking several months off. I want to show my authentic self. I want people to know what I look like when I laugh, the way my voice gets deep when I’m passionate about something, the way I look without makeup or a nice outfit on.
If you go by my Twitter feed, I think a certain picture will emerge. I’m tough. I have a feisty streak a mile wide, and a stubborn streak to match. I take a little too much pleasure in debating people – especially when I get to tweet a nice little soundbite response that takes down their argument.
It’s a thrill for me, it really is.
People ask me all the time if I ever get tired of debating Islam apologists, feminists, or leftists, and I can say honestly that I really don’t. At least, it is a very rare day when I’m just tired of debate.
It is way more fun for me than it probably should be. But I also think it serves a purpose – if I can make one person think for themselves, dig a little deeper, expand their worldview a little, I think it’s worth doing.
That, and it improves my own arguments. Sometimes I’m proven wrong, and I have to reassess a position. It’s hard for me to admit when I’m wrong (See: stubbornness), but I also enjoy it when I’ve had time to get over the initial indignation.
I enjoy writing and tweeting for very different reasons.
When I tweet, it’s all about the quick take, the ‘savage takedown’, the fun little interactions, and GIFs, and memes, and inside jokes. As much as Twitter’s censorship of right-wingers sucks, it is such a fun platform, and I am thankful it is available to me.
"If most Muslims were terrorists we'd all be dead!" Sure. And if most Muslims truly despised terrorists, the terrorists would all be dead.
— Stefanie MacWilliams (@StefMacWilliams) March 25, 2017
When I write, it is quite different. It’s equally fun, but for opposite reasons. When I write, there is no “quick take”. There is no easy shortcut. There is no soundbite to make me sound smart.
Writing is sitting there staring at a blank post editor for twenty minutes, with no clue what to say. Writing is typing fast and trying as hard as possible to think slow.
Writing is also the fun stuff. Feeling the caffeine in my veins, hearing the sound of my fingers banging away on the keyboard. And for me, at least, it’s like falling. Sometimes it takes me time to fall into the place where the words come, but once I’m there, it’s as natural as breathing.
Writing is also researching. Sometimes for hours. Sometimes it takes me three hours to write an article, and 2 hours of that is flipping between browser tabs and learning and revising what I just said.
And then there’s that thing that happens every single time, no matter how long I do this or how many people tell me they enjoy my work. Without fail, there’s that moment when I publish and share a post, and I’m utterly terrified. I doubt myself. I wonder why anyone listens to me at all.
And yet, every time, I’m proven wrong. People always listen, people give me comments and critique, and it makes everything better. I’m thankful for every reader I have.
I was having a conversation with a friend last night, and our chat got me thinking about these dichotomies we all have within us. I was telling him how, as a mother and a very nurturing person, I struggle sometimes when I think about the individual human beings when faced with my own policy views. For example, I am in opposition to bringing in Syrian refugees en masse – and yet, I can’t help but feel a deep longing to hold every child, to comfort every woman, to heal every man.
This is also why as much as people on my Twitter joke about it, even if it was viable for me to do, I’d never go into politics. I’m a woman, and I’m not afraid to say it. I am far too emotional to ever have final responsibility for those decisions. I prefer to influence people through my commentary, anyway.
I’m not saying my emotional tendency is a bad thing. Actually, it’s a trait I love about myself. I love womanhood, I love motherhood, I love being feminine, and I love fitting comfortably into the gender roles that nature, or God, decided for the human race a long time ago.
If someone on Twitter met me in real life, they’d see that side of me first. They’d see I’m very sweet to people in general. I compliment the cashier’s nails at the grocery store. I buy coffee for the person next in line. I fawn over little kids and puppies. I ask a little boy about his toy car at the park.
And this would apply equally to an ultra feminist, or to a Muslim, or to a Hillary Clinton fanatic, or to anyone, really.
Because on a human level, despite my political beliefs, I really do see people as individuals.
It is an ongoing, daily journey to seek balance. To find my authentic way of being.
And that’s where my “twitter personality” really reflects a deeper truth about myself: it is precisely because I’m very inclined to emotional nurturing and individually compassionate that I make an effort to improve myself on an intellectual level.
It’s a space where I foster my “masculine” traits. No, I’m not saying women aren’t intellectual – just that as a particularly feminine, particularly emotional woman, I admire the way most men lean towards problem solving, logic, and rationally “fixing” things, versus the way I look at issues. Not because it’s better. But because it’s different- and complementary.
When I write my commentary pieces, sometimes they read like Carrie Bradshaw’s column on Sex and The City. I’m okay with that. I want to be authentic to what feels right instinctively, it has served me well.
But they cannot only be written through my naturally personal and emotional way of writing. They must be based on solid fact, too.
It is why I can read about evolutionary biology and psychology and how the combination of both created patriarchy for two hours and be completely fascinated. It is why I can be researching the life of Muhammad and fall down a rabbit hole about what constituted hijab throughout history in various Islamic countries. It is why I usually have some sort of lecture or debate or interview on in the background while I’m taking care of my son or cleaning my house.
These dualities apply to almost everything, in my experience. I approach this broad, complicated topic from the perspective of feminine and masculine because I think that division can explain so much about why our world is the way it is, and why our rejection of the realities and differences that exist between men and women can be so harmful.
My biggest take away is this. We are all yin and yang. We all have contradictions within us.
I will always strive to be authentic with you as I work these things out in my writing.