“Tell the Truth.”

I believe it is my responsibility as a journalist to tell the truth. When I created a Truth Social account last February, I was sure that access to more information and ideas would improve my reporting. There was a lot of hesitancy that went into making that decision, as I am not a conservative and a common theme for conservative groups isa strong dislike for journalism, but even so, I made the account.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would launch an app that embraces free speech and the “truth” in 2021 (including hate speech). Thousands of right-wing individuals from throughout the country have clamored to join Trump in his new entrepreneurial adventure, which resulted intechnical difficultiesduring its launch in January of this year.

Although I mostly lurked around the app, observing the users and the content they were interacting with the most, I noticed one post that was particularly enraging to me. This post, which was written by an anti-choice influencer, detailed their thoughts on the opinion draft by Justice Alito in which Roe v Wade would be overturned. In my feminist agony, I replied to the post by saying many young and marginalized groups would be in danger if the landmark case was officially overturned and the Supreme Court would have stripped away one of our most basic human rights: the right to bodily autonomy. 

Soon after I posted my opinion, I was bombarded with replies from seemingly dozens of Truth Social users. Many automatically questioned my opinion, and I was shown “proof” (which was really just images taken off Reddit) that children were being murdered. More surprisingly, though, I was quickly being turned into a meme.

“Marked safe from having to use reproductive rights” (which is a roundabout way of saying I would never get laid), “baby killer,” “I’m a journalism,” and more derogatory images with captions were posted in over 7 hours worth of constant replies. My head was actually photoshopped ontoa short video of Satan’s penis, which originated from Lil Nas X’sMONTEROmusic video.

still thinking about thispic.twitter.com/avc6zD5TQr

— lauren b (@laurenbarton03)May 28, 2022

All humor aside, the experience of being constantly harassed online for 7 hours took its toll. I spent the next day severely questioning my life choices and questioning if it was worth staying on TS. After thorough consideration, I have decided to stay on the app, as I still believe it may be valuable for future reported pieces and audience research. 

So what did I learn from the situation I put myself in? What can you take away from this wild experience?

I learned that even though it’s okay to express your opinions online, it’s wiser to pick and choose your battles. You don’t have to reply to every comment on your post. You don’t have to justify your experiences. You don’t even have to listen to everything others have to say. There is a place for a thoughtful debate, but Truth Social is not that place.