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Thompson: Twitter’s self-care culture is not toxic

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Generation Z is arguably the generation most open and aware of the burden of mental illness. The internet gives us a medium to discuss coping strategies and other aspects of mental health. Becoming more aware of mental health makes us more understanding with ourselves and therefore with each other.

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Twitter’s self-care culture is not a bad thing because people need a place to exchange ideas over the best way to take care of themselves. It’s up to individual users to discern the best course of action for their relationships, even if that means going through a phase where they think they’re better off ending a relationship.

Twitter is a medium that people use in order to express their opinions. Any social media platform can be used to do so, but Twitter seems to have a special community when it comes to self-care, to the point where many will encourage you to cut people off for any reason you deem fit.

The people in question are those whose first response is to cut others out of their life before they think to mend the relationship. I’ve personally been accustomed to this mindset where you drop people because it’s the easy thing to do. It’s easier than setting boundaries and telling people how you feel, until it isn’t anymore. Everyone has to walk their own path and discover that for themselves.

Those who engage in these behaviors are not doing so because of Twitter, but rather they were already in a mindset where they were susceptible to acting out that kind of behavior. These people already have trouble having healthy relationships and they use self-care and “cancel culture” as a means to reinforce their behavior, instead of going deeper and developing their own self-awareness. Twitter is just the reinforcement they use to defend this behavior.

Gen Z equates self-care with self-love. By default, if you love yourself, then you won’t engage with people who do you harm, which enables cancel culture.

It’s okay to take time away from social media or close relationships to focus on yourself. However, it becomes worrisome when you begin breaking commitments and dismissing people you care about in the name of your own self-care.

You don’t necessarily owe anyone anything, and you should do what’s best for you. But maybe the question you should ask yourself is why it’s so much easier to disconnect from people you care about, rather than putting in the effort to reconcile before giving up. Much of this practice also involves harboring negative or unresolved feelings that can linger for a long time.

If you can’t forgive other people, how can you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?

More than ever before, people are investing in self-care necessities. Millennials spend the most on self-care products than any other generation.

A lot of it really comes down to who you follow and what sort of media you consume. You can’t always control what you see, but you have to have your own filter for what you’ll allow in your zone. Don’t be afraid to use the block button.

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The French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that the ancient Greeks saw self-care as integral to democracy: self-care was a necessary part of care for others. It made you a better, more honest citizen.

My colleague Katrina Leibee says Twitter cultivates a toxic culture of self-care by putting you and your own personal convictions before the relationship.

This might be true in some cases, but again, I think it depends on which sort of media you follow. People who were already prone to engaging in that behavior are likely to reinforce it by following accounts who support their motives. If you can’t forgive other people, how can you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?

Cutting people off in and of itself is not toxic. Someone who’s been emotionally abused by a partner for years deserves to move on with peace and clarity on their own terms. What makes it toxic is acting out as a means to get attention from that person, which is just a way to satisfy your ego’s need to attach to the things that bring you pain and cause you distress. When you’ve been operating on that frequency for a long time, it’s difficult to break the cycle.

If you can’t take care of yourself and give attention to the relationship you have with yourself, how can you have successful relationships with others? Connection to others is a necessity, and it starts with yourself. 

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @madisongoeswest.

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