Social Media. I find it quite good fun. I have always had a Facebook account (well, definition of always? since it became a mainstream thing to do. Mobile? check. Email address? check. Facebook? check.). I have one for my friends and family and one for my cakes, which you can see here www.facebook.com/CakeChemistryUK. I set it up about a year and half ago when I had a half cocked idea about making cakes for a living. I was daydreaming about making money without ever leaving the house in my fug of depression. However, I’m far too soft for that malarkey, charging people far too little and giving them far too much. So within around a week and a half of deciding I was a business woman, I quickly reverted to home baker that makes cool cakes for friends and family.
Since learning of the GBBO transmission date, I decided to branch out. I have just discovered (over the last week) the joys of Twitter. It is indulgent and silly, fun and fast and also a little bit exciting. I fear it has dredged up within me both a little bit of narcissism and a little bit of neurosis. The ever moving accumulative total of followers strokes your ego and bashes it at the same time. Do they like me? Oooh they love me!! Oh they are being mean about me. Oh they unfollowed me. Yay they retweeted me! Oh good god why am I putting myself through this?
You quickly move into a mindset which pretty much infiltrates every action, thought, environment, activity. Tweet what you’re doing. Tweet where you are. Tweet what you’ve eaten. Tweet what you’re going to eat next. Tweet pictures of dogs in hats. An endless stream of Tweets in case your followers decide not to follow you anymore. And the hashtags. #needtothinkofreallyfunnythingstoattempttogettrending. #needtolearnnottoputspacesinthemiddleofmywordseventhoughitcomesreallynaturallywhentyping.
Then there is the handle. So I am a therapist. I bake. I have just set up my own website call BakeTherapy (this one!). So, I think to myself, I am a Bake Therapist. I register with Twitter and pop in my handle with the obligatory commercial at: @baketherapist. It would appear that I now cook sex offenders in my spare time. The underscore, I was told frequently in my first few Twitter days, is my best friend.
My foray into Twitter therefore has been lots of fun. Well, that was until today when I uncovered a slightly darker side. I had heard of the trolls and keyboard warriors out there, sitting in an anonymous room, projecting their misery and vitriol onto others through insults and unkind words. But today I found that people were being openly mean. It appeared, under their own names, proud of their malice and hurt. The subject of the nastiness was of course my weight.
Now I think I always knew that if there was going to be a focus at some point or other on the large – fat – woman making cakes and pies on the telly. When the press were given our photos and biogs last week, a few papers took it upon themselves to call me ‘jolly’. Does anyone know of a thin, glamorous, non red cheeked person being described as ‘jolly’?. The word is stunningly mimetic. As soon as I read it I felt the flap of bingo wings and the ripple of belly. And not just my own. So, yes, I get it, I’m fat and there is something poetic about a large woman in an apron spooning buttercream onto cake and talking about how much she loves pies. I don’t profess to be a healthy weight. I fully admit I am greedy. I am happy to share with anyone that I am a size 22 and my BMI is really not in any way shape or form ideal. I am also not proud of it. I have spent my life fat or thin, ballooning then slimming, ballooning then slimming. Maybe it’s a sign of my fragile willpower, a reflection of my emotional woes. Maybe I am just not very good at maintaining my weight. Maybe I’m just greedy. What I do know is that my weight (anyone’s weight) is not a reason to denigrate everything I do, nor can you define me by this alone. A person should not be defined by any aspect of their appearance. For a second today I felt like I shouldn’t have been in that tent because I am fat. The fact that I have achieved some of the things I have achieved was momentarily forgotten.
One thing I do think about when I see these comments is how the authors are happy for people to perceive them this way. I know if I tweeted/wrote/said something as nasty as this (not that I would, I’d like to think I’m a little more human) my Mum and Dad and all of my family and friends would be so angry with me, and they would make me feel so very very ashamed. If we cannot as human beings monitor our own social conduct, then we must look to our companions to guide us. So maybe that is the answer. These so called trolls don’t have any significant social contact to help them monitor their own behaviour. No one cares enough or is close enough to guide them. I’d rather be fat.