I’m retiring the name Visual Idiot. I don’t want to be known by an insult any more, please. My name is Charlotte. I’ve struggled with borderline personality disorder, low self esteem, psychotic depression, anxiety and agarophabia, dysphoria, and a whole host of other issues for years. These struggles meant I placed such a low value on myself I was happy using a frankly horrible term to refer to myself. It might have seemed outwardly ironic — and it was originally meant to be that — but as time went on, it was less of a joke and more of a manifestation of how I thought about myself.
The dysphoria was listed above but also contributed to the name — I’m trans. I started this persona while still closeted and bitter and fighting myself, and being called my old name hurt so much, an outright insult was the lesser of two evils to hear. Since coming out, I’m a lot happier with my life in general, but also more comfortable to be known to the world as me. And that’s Charlotte. Not an insult.
I’m retiring from the web design industry. The web dev industry. Just the web in general. I’m so burnt out, and I don’t think it’s recoverable. It’s not a hidden secret that the web can be a toxic place and as designers and developers, the people who build this, we can contribute to making this a better or worse place. When I first started doing web design, social media wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it is now and I would focus on websites as a source of entertainment or information. Then, slowly, the field evolved. Trends changed, mostly for the better, but the ones that changed for the worst have — in my opinion — soured the job for me. There’s a larger focus on being data-driven, hyperanalytical, and algorithmically intelligent, which has led to polarising politics and views to extreme lengths. As a trans woman, I get to see extreme misogyny and transphobia (and transmisogyny, the two together) first-hand spiralling online. As a white person I don’t get to experience racism (and I wouldn’t want to make assumptions about that experience), but I can observe it everywhere. It’s all sickening.
Social media has brought us all together. We’re all connected now, which is great. But it’s addictive. I used to spend most of the day glued to a computer, either in Photoshop or Sketch, a terminal or a code editor, or browsing the web. Browsing Twitter, Facebook, Reddit — these kinds of sites that wore me down to read unrelentingly awful comments all day but paradoxically I was unable to keep myself away from. I was connected to people but I wasn’t really connecting with those people.
I don’t want to be a part of that any more. It’s not something I’m proud of — any of this — and I want to do something where I can help people or make a positive change.
I’d stopped using Twitter years ago really, but I’ve completely abandoned it now. I’m not taking on any work, full-time, part-time or freelance and once this domain expires, I’m not renewing it, which includes any email addresses.
I sincerely want to apologise to anyone who I ever hurt with my actions, whether I cynically mocked something you were proud of (which, honestly, was probably great! I used to be a very jealous person), whether it was seeing the username and bring back memories, or worse. Whatever it is, I’m so sorry. I know an apology won’t fix everything and if there’s anything I can do to help repair the damage, please get in touch with me.
To everyone in the industry still, this isn’t a slight against you — there’s so many fantastic projects and people involved doing incredible things and that gives me hope, but it’s just not for me any more. Thanks for all the memories (even though they weren’t so great, he tastes like you only sweeter).
If you want to get in touch with me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
With heartfelt best wishes, goodbye.