I never intended my Tik Tok to be a route for advocacy. It was a place where people related to my darkest parts for the first time. A place to share trauma that most people don’t want to hear.
I don’t regret that it launched my advocacy platform. I couldn’t have predicted a job I had taken to help other people, autistic children, would turn into such a traumatic and life-changing experience. My job as an ABA therapist was a relatively short blip in my life, and yet it made such a significant impact on who I discovered myself to be.
I suppose finding out you’re autistic from ABA, an industry that views your existence as inherently wrong is just about the worst way you can find out. The guilt I felt at leaving helpless children at the hands of people who saw them as manipulative, dysfunctional, and in need of saving was nearly unbearable. I started posting on Tik Tok about it as a means of gaining sanity. A touch of reality when I was being gaslit by my coworkers and boss. Being fired was just about the best thing the clinic could have done for me.
Motivated By Spite
My goal was to reach 10K. That was the number my father had at the height of his relative “fame,” which he weaponized against me growing up. It was a spite-motivated goal and one I craved desperately to reach. But when I achieved it with a controversial video, I was wracked with anxiety I hadn’t felt since starting the account.
I had thousands of people telling me I was wrong, spewing the worst kind of hate towards me, and arguing with each other. I became obsessed with managing the comment section, refreshing the page repeatedly to see dozens of comments pouring in.
My victory was hollow. I had reached my goal, but what was the point? It marked a year-long project that devolved the second half a million people saw my video. I started noticing other activists’ efforts, posts of friends and mutuals that went viral. The comments were filled with all sorts of projections, removing nuance and accusing creators despite their content being less than a minute long.
While it isn’t just Tik Tok, it seems especially bad because of the level of audience that you can reach and the length of videos. Being seen by more people isn’t necessarily a good thing. I grew bitter as I got comments on my videos critiquing minutiae, putting words in my mouth, and insulting me. It made me realize my efforts required a much more nuanced approach than Tik Tok.
Welcome to Life of Lieu
Advocacy is exhausting, even if it’s behind a keyboard. It’s a ton of emotional labor to explain the same things over and over to the same questions/arguments. I don’t pretend to have it harder than most activists. I haven’t reached a platform where I’ve experienced a fraction of some of the abuse I’ve seen. I am also not out in the field advocating in harsh conditions against cruel people. But, I’m still tired.
I created this blog because I need a place to flesh out my ideas. I can’t articulate what I need in only 150 characters. I hate talking on video. And writing has always been the way I communicate best.
This blog will be a mix of my thoughts/feelings/experiences on mental health topics I feel are essential to address. Like Tik Tok, I imagine it will take on a life of its own. Welcome to Life of Lieu.