A little over fifteen years ago, I started writing a blog. I loved lifting the curtain on my personal life and sharing what was going on as I learned how to be a father, handled a vindictive ex-husband who exhausted my family while he tried to hurt my wife (not caring that he was doing a lot of collateral damage to my then step-kids at the same time), and about my almost-daily struggles to figure out why I had a once-promising acting career that had stalled out and wasn’t going anywhere.
I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words since then, not just in my blog, but in books and for places I was honored and privileged to contribute to, like Suicide Girls and the AV Club. Over the last year or so, I’ve put about 71000 words into the manuscript of my first novel, and I’ve wasted far, far, far too much time on Twitter.
I really hate Twitter. It was once promising, and I feel like it still does some good, but on balance, it enables harassment and evil and cruelty at least as much if not more than it helps things change for the better. I feel like it has broken our society, and wrecked our social contract. I feel like the board at Twitter, and its CEO, Jack Dorsey, know this, but they’re too busy profiting from their inaction to care. May history judge them all the way they deserve.
I’ve been thinking about how bad Twitter has become, and how I can’t imagine asking people to follow me there like I did when it started so long ago. I’ve been thinking about how angry and sickened I am by the Fascist who is currently occupying the presidency, and the people he has surrounded himself with who enable and encourage him and his hateful conduct that goes against everything America has always represented to the world (except for the shameful and indefensible parts of our history, like slavery, Jim Crow, and Internment).
I’ve been thinking about how I want to tell silly and even hearfelt stories in my blog. I’ve been thinking about how I want to share how wonderful my kids were on Father’s Day, (which they know I don’t care about) when they took me out to lunch and ice cream anyway, because it was an excuse to be together. I want to write about how much I love my daughter in law, and how happy she makes my son. I’ve been thinking about how I want to write about how grateful I am that, even though my kids are 28 and 26, and not children at all anymore, they still want to spend time with me. I want to write about how great it feels to know that all the suffering we all went through when they were young didn’t affect our family in the way it was designed to. I want to celebrate that the worst person in the world, who made our lives a living hell, is relegated to a rarely-remembered footnote in our family’s history, who is living the life he deserves. I don’t write about these things, now, because they are deeply personal, and I don’t feel like it’s aways necessary or even smart to pull the curtain back on my life, or the lives of my family.
And yet … I will write about something personal, real quick, because it’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for almost ten years:
Ryan was 19, and was home between semesters of college. He’d had a real difficult year while he was adjusting to school and being away from home, and his mom and I were doing everything we could to support him while he went through a challenging growth phase.
I had just bought this laser star projector from Think Geek, and I wanted to show him how cool it was to spray little green points of light across the ceiling of our living room, and just lay there, watching them drift around.
So we turned off the lights, stretched out on the floor, and did just that. The house was quiet, and the only sound was the soft whirr of the fan inside the projector.
We imagined constellations, and named them, but were mostly quiet, too, until Ryan, still looking up at our imaginary planetarium, said, “So I’ve been thinking about something…”
“Oh?” I said, “What’s that?”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am who I am because of you. I love science fiction and literature because you introduced it to me when I was little. I care about people because you taught me to be empathetic. You have always been more of a dad to me than my dad ever was … and I was hoping that you’d make it official, and adopt me.”
One of the laser points of light drifted across the ceiling, like a shooting star. I watched it and tried to process what I had just heard. Ryan’s dad had spent his entire childhood trying to convince Ryan to reject me. He wasted their whole lives to that point trying to make them pick sides in a battle that neither one of my kids wanted to be part of. At times, it felt like he was going to be successful, and a day would come when the children I did not make, but did raise as if they were my own, would never speak to me again.
And now, a day had come that I always dreamed of, but never actually expected to happen.
“Is that okay?” He asked. I didn’t realize that I’d been quiet for close to a minute, while I was trying to process that this was real, that this was really happening. I didn’t realize that tears were streaming out of the corners of my eyes, down the sides of my face, and pooling in my ears.
“Ryan, I would be honored to adopt you,” I said, thickly.
“Is it okay if I change my name, too?” He asked.
The tears turned to joyful sobs, and I told him that I would love that.
It took months, and a lot more complicated paperwork that you’d probably expect for an adult adoption, but we eventually found ourselves in the same courthouse his soon to be out of our lives forever biodad had dragged us into for years. In the same place I had to listen to lies about me and my wife and our relationship with our boys, we stood up in front of a judge, my godmother (who came all the way to Pasadena to be part of it), his mom and brother, and a couple of close friends, and we swore that we wanted to legally become father and son. Years later, I got to do the same thing with Nolan, who didn’t choose a poetic moment under imaginary stars to ask (he isn’t a writer, like Ryan is) but asked me during lunch at Comic-con! Both days were the sort of thing I would have rushed home to write about when they were young, but I kept it just for me and my family, until now, and not just because I wanted to respect their privacy as adults.
These are the stories that I miss telling, because these are the stories that don’t just make me happy, but are the stories that I believe can resonate with readers.
Like, right now, I am here to tell my fellow stepparents that you are doing a wonderful thing, being a loving and supportive parent to your kids, whether they share your DNA and name or not. (In fact, for the first 15 years we were together, I told the boys that they were Wheatons in everything but name, and if they didn’t want to take that step, I respected that. I would love them no matter what.) I remember how hard it was to not take the bait when their biodad would tell them some outrageous lie about Anne and me, and instead just tell them that I was sorry they had to hear that, and remind them that I loved them no matter what. I hope that by sharing the story of my son asking me to officially become his father, a stepparent somewhere who is having a hard time, or a stepchild who is wondering if they can ask about adoption, will feel a little less alone and afraid.
Shitty people like to try and hurt me by saying that I raised someone else’s kids, like that’s somehow a dishonorable thing. I feel genuinely sad for those people, if they truly believe that, but when they’re just being cruel, I honestly don’t really care what some asshole stranger on the Internet thinks about my relationship with the people I love.
Which brings us back to Twitter. I took it off my phone months ago, because I didn’t need to give my time and energy to garbage humans whenever I had a free moment. I turned my mentions off a couple weeks ago, because even though I’m blocking over 25000 accounts, new shitty people are popping up every hour of every day, and taking advantage of their ability to reach into my life and try to hurt me. It sucks to miss the fun stuff, the “yes and” to my dumb jokes and puns, and the interactions with good and kind people that I’ve absolutely loved since I created by account. But as I wrote recently, unless and until Twitter takes harassment and all its systemic problems seriously, it causes more harm and unhappiness than anything else. It’s not you, good and kind people, it’s me. And it’s Twitter. But we all know that, don’t we?
I have work to do. I have stories to tell. I have a wife and children and pets to spend my time with. I have a lot of deeply personal things happening in my life right now, that I have no intention of talking about. I have people in my life who are far more important to me than Twitter or blogging.
I have been trying to quit Twitter for close to two years, but I can’t, because being there is important to people who want to work with me. I can’t because part of me holds out some desperate hope that it will get better. I can’t because there are three million people there who seem to care about what I do in this world, and it’s really stupid to abandon them, when I have creative projects coming up that I think they want to know about.
But my God, people, Twitter is broken and it’s destroying our ability to see the humanity in each other. I know that I am guilty in that regard, but you’ll have to forgive me for how much I hate Nazis.
See? I did it again.
I know that this website started out as an unfiltered view into my world, but I’m old now. My kids are grown. The people I work with read it, and my employers are giving me increasingly restrictive agreements to sign before I can work with them, which I kinda need to do to support my family. I’m not going to be able to go back to the way things were, because the world has changed so much, but maybe that’s for the best, because time I don’t spend here is time that I can spend in my imagination, writing the stories that I want to write, that I hope you want to read.
209 thoughts on “intrusion is my illusion”
“Well, if that’s the way it is done, then that’s the way you must do it”
Although the odd short ‘Wil done a thing of interest’ post won’t go amiss
And cheers for you
Wil, thank you for your lovely story. This might sound crazy, but you are my hero. When I think of the person that I want to be, I think of Wil Wheaton. I am.a teacher and I know that a positive comment doesn’t cancel out a negative one, but I gotta try. With love.
Wil, every time I read that story of you and Ryan, I get a little choked up.
I’m just remembering now, who knows how many years later, that I joined twitter after you mentioned it in one of your blog posts. I closed my account years ago, but you were the first and only consistent follow I had, except sometimes during hockey season 🙂
I’d be sad to see you blog less. You’re reboot and monthly check-ins as well as your openness about mental illness helped me through a dark time. I get it. Do what you gotta but don’t let the Nazis keep you down. If people like you back down, theres no hope for the rest.
Putting down the truth,
Things that might never be ‘liked’ by anyone else. Things that will leave your chest open
Things that makes you look less than you want to be.
It is difficult to do
It is scary to share
But when I see it, true words, they almost glow.
I wish I could hug you. A big bear hug, with a head-tuck and a couple of good back-pats.
I have been following you for years, and consider you a guiding light and inspiration. I also know that you do not feel this of yourself at times, and that’s ok. Just know that, you have friends in the most unlikely places. Your good nature and positive influence has reached far, touching many hearts.
Star Trek was a first love, and Wesley Crusher was a favorite character. In more recent years I was overjoyed to find you again through TableTop, and I still hold hope for a return of TitansGrave.
I hope you flourish, and wish you and your family the best. Thank you for all you do.
I’m not a stepparent, I’m a mother. A mother who lost primary custody to a narcissistic sociopath (think Trump, but liberal) because he had money to appeal the judge awarding me custody and I had zero dollars and owed my lawyer $15K before the appeal.
As I hear my now 11-year-old report back to me the horrible things his father or stepmom say about me or his half-brother, I wonder if my telling him that my love and his brother’s love are unbreakable will be enough. If just holding him and letting him cry without badmouthing his dad is enough. If storing up “It’s not your fault” for when he inevitably asks why his dad doesn’t think he’s good enough is going to be enough.
Knowing that your sons heard all sorts of terrible things about you (and probably Anne) and were able to realize the Whole Truth when they became adults gives me hope.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you for sharing that. As a bonus parent of three amazing children, it’s a privilege to be in their lives. It’s also unfortunate that the bioparent can be so hateful about a relationship with their children. Blended families are a part of our society and can be a blessing for those who are unable to have children of their own.
Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your beautiful family.
Great story, as an adoptee (adopted..? meh) I can see it from that side as well. I remember getting adopted at five, only knew the guy for a few months, but that was 49 years ago and my dad has been one of the most positive influences in my life. He taught me so many things, in just a few years, that I could only repay him by attempting to teach my own kids, and grand kids, the same values. I know he won’t read this, but I like sharing with others who understand. BTW, big fan Wil, love pretty much all of your work online, on the big screen, and especially on the old boob box.
I read this, and a few other posts you have made. I want to thank you for what you have done for your kids. I wish I had done half as good of a job dealing with my depression, anxiety, and kids as you have.
I suffer from some of the same issues I know you have talked about (depression and anxiety) unfortunately I feel they pushed my (step)children away from me. It has been a hard life, and I just want to say thank you for making me feel like I am not the only one who struggles…
I’m thinking of writing a sequel to Stand By Me? What do you think?
For want of a better forum, I’ll just write this here:
A beautiful, touching story. Thank you for sharing it. I feel we really need those kind of truths spread in these darker times.
It’s selfish of me to be sad about this, but I understand. I also think you are an amazing dad and your family is lucky to have your time and energy. Best wishes for health, success and happiness in your future. ♥️
What I’d like to see is for Twitter to provide a means to verify anyone’s identity, as a particular person, who wants to have their identity confirmed by Twitter. And while you could still appear anonymous with a Twitter handle of your choosing (to those of us who are not celebrities and place some value on anonymity), you would have that ‘seal’ from Twitter that you are a specific verified human being whose identity is known and confirmed by Twitter.
Then, Twitter could implement a way where you can specify that you only want to see and interact with Verified Twitter accounts. So you know you are interacting with real people with real verified identities that Twitter, at least, knows who that person is. In this way you would be far less likely to be interacting with bots, Russian trolls, someone else’s troll account, etc… And people tend to be better behaved when they know that they are known by those in control of the platform and who can take away their access as a verified user.
If you have a platform where users like yourself Will, and even average people like me and most of your followers, have chosen to ONLY see and interact with identity verified users, then those people will value their identity verified accounts and not want to lose them due to bad/abusive behavior (including myself on occasion) . A system of temporary bans could be implemented as well. Of course this would require a lot more manpower than Twitter is currently employing.
I don’t get the sort of harassment a celebrity would get on Twitter, but I hate seeing and getting riled up by the hundreds of thousands (as confirmed by Twitter and our intelligence agencies) treasonous traitor Trump supporting Russian troll farm accounts. Responding to these a-holes, only to then discover I’d been interacting with a Russian propagandist and not a real American citizen whom I have to share a country with.
What do you think about this idea? Maybe this is something you can help push and get a movement of Twitter users to demand action on. Then one day we can set our Twitter accounts to only interact with identity verified accounts. And others who want to follow certain celebrities or otherwise be visible to those who have this setting enabled, will be incentivized to get an identity verified account as well. Soon enough, the real people of Twitter (not the trolls and bots) will be identity verified and Twitter will be a much better place to interact with your fellow citizens of the nation and the world.
Thank you and happy birthday.
I feel like all those people would find you if you left Twitter.
Also hate Twitter.
I’d miss the blog, I learned so much about myself & dealing with depression & anxiety, & I know you’ve helped countless others. I loved the feeling of sharing your successes (&failures). I think as a more mature fan, I’d love to continue to see how u handle grown children & a more “grownup” career. That being said, I completely understand your need to take a break. I look forward to reading whatever you decide to share, whenever you decide to share it.
Sometimes the needs of the one outweighs the needs of the many. I have been, and always will be, a fan.
Live long and prosper, Wil Wheaton.
Your blog has been helpful & enjoyable to me. If you stop blogging, I will miss it but I completely understand the reasons. I wish you well in all that you do & I’ll look for your work elsewhere.
I’m glad you’ve given Twitter the boot. All who touch it are hurt. May I make a suggestion? Feel good about the direction of the world. Poverty and crime are significantly down from historical levels despite the rhetoric pounded into us in the “two-minutes-hate” that TV has become. Instead of letting it chip away at your life, smile, sit up straight, and do the best you can. Help people and animals and fauna when you can. Accept that you cannot change everything, and that hate and division solve nothing. Here’s an odd little factoid from one Hillary voter to another.You’re not going to like this. Here it goes: Trump is not Satan. There, I’ve said it. Worse yet, it’s true. The country is not being controlled by Fascists or Nazis or anyone even close to that. That particular hyperbole is disrespectful to the memory of people who suffered and died at the hands of horrible regimes. What has happened, is that our country has elected a bellicose Republican. America is America and it will be America in 2020 and 2024 and 2028 etc. The hate is ratcheted up to absurd levels because, as the inimitable Bill Hicks once said,: [paraphrasing] The “hate demographic – that’s a good market.” The truth is much more banal and unprofitable to media outlets. Trump is a politician and Jim Acosta is an unprofessional self-promoter. The internet continues to disinter-mediate TV, and as its markets shrink, it jumps ever larger sharks in a desperate bid for relevance that will never come. As a result, there is no reliable broadcast news source and what passes for late night comedy is the dimmest shadow of the shows of giants like Johnny Carson. I never thought I’d wax poetic about Jay Freakin Leno, but I miss him. The late night shows have become a boring loop-tape of politics and false outrage. I haven’t watched any of them in months. The point is that… the times, they are a changin’… but not as much as we’re led to believe and not as badly as we’re led to believe. So take heart. Breathe deep. The system is functioning well, despite hysterical reports to the contrary. Just say no to “two minutes hate” because hate will not make your vote count double. Hate only damages the person experiencing it. Kick hate and outrage to the curb – you’ll be happier and healthier and as a result, you’ll live longer and help more people along the way and make the world a better place. I mean, it sounds like that’s the conclusion you’re reaching so I may be preaching to the choir, but at any rate – be well.
Keep on writing please. I love your words and the feelings I can find in them
I always enjoy your writing, but I understand. There is too much glee in destruction these days and it’s so strange to me. if you leave, I totally understand.
Before I ask this next bit, I did search on reddit and other places. Since tone is difficult on the internets – I mean this in a humble, non-demanding way. As a fan of several of your projects, could you do a brief post on the fate of: Memories of the Future vol 2, Ttiansgrave and TableTop?
if it’s hurtful or you’re under NDAs or something, no worries. I just genuinely miss those projects. I re-listen to your Memories of the Futurecast all the time – it got me through a lot of college studying. 🙂 I really wanted to hear your take on the later Wesley episodes. I hope to read those sometime in the fabulous future.
I also wanted to share one of the best illustrations I’ve ever seen or read of depression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtKUUkEDetI&t=0s&index=4&list=PL_saLI-LH-VrxFpFgk467Jn02i46arTyD
It’s about depression and dating, but the end of the episode particularly fully illustrates how depression lies. It’s heartbreaking, but for me, it was also validating. I realized that it is a physical thing I can fight against.
Thanks Wil, you’re the best.
Honesty, sincerity, and transparency may be the currency of the future as it is so rare and everything else seems so easy to produce. Here’s to your rich future
I’ve never met you, don’t know if I ever will, but you got a good heart, I can see that much. And I hope you get a good role in the new Jean-Luc Picard series…..you deserve it!!!!
Hello Wil Wheaton. I am the Global Brand Ambassador for Kentucky Fried Chicken and a professional Colonel Harland Sanders impersonator. I am also an actor and I do most of the Colonel Sanders TV commercials and events overseas. I am going to be traveling with you on Star Trek- The Cruise III in Jan 2019 and I am so looking forward to meeting you there. I hope you like my fried chicken. I have a question for you. White meat or dark meat? I need to know before the Cruise as I have a neat gift for you.
The kind of stories you describe is what got me hooked on your blog so many moons ago. I am so, so delighted to read your story about Ryan, and I am grateful you were willing to lift that curtain one more time. I miss the golden age of blogs—when it really was folks sharing their (relatively) unfiltered thoughts and experiences. The way capitalism infects everything is so depressing. But there’s no getting that genie back in the bottle. Anyway, I so appreciated being able to follow your journey and feeling like I got to know you as a person, even just a bit. Much love to you.
100% Agree with you. The vast majority of humans are not equipped for impersonal communication through the likes of Twitter and it’s breaking down how people relate to each other. I say that as a software engineer (inspired to seek out science and engineering in no small part by looking up to Wesley Crusher as a 6-13 year old) and having to admit that engineers like me have done damage to the sociological structure of the world is painful. Mine is a competitive and fast moving vocation and we are able to accomplish so much so fast but we aren’t stopping to think about the fact we aren’t far removed from advanced animals scrabbling in the dirt for our next meal whose only means of communication could merely reach those close enough to hit us with a stick.
Hey Wil, I (and I’m sure many other readers) hope, that you are contractually prohibited to talk about the upcoming Start Trek New Generation series. Your character deserves it so much.
hi Wil, i come on here now and then and read your posts. And i often want to write something to you, and sometimes ive typed it up but didnt hit send cause it always feels weird somehow. so hopefully i go through with it this time. just wanted to say thank you in general for being a good person. i dont know you personally and good is a bit ambiguous, but its the closest i can come up with for what i want to say. i enjoy your many varied works, and i imagine i will continue to whatever they may be, but for these posts, thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing this!
I am from Germany and just stlumbled over your blog. I read the entries from the last two years and wanted to say thank you.
I have seen many of your tabletop shows and big bang, star trek and so on. I was really surprised that a guy who enjoys acting, gaming and having a good time with friends got a serious illness like depression.
It’s nearly heartbraking how much you care on behalf of others. I can absolutly undrstand that you hate nazis (coming from nazi homeland myself). But you cannot carry the burden of the world on your shoulders alone. You have a loving wife and children. You have many friends and persons who support you. This is the fundament you should get your strength. Fight the evil bastards but don’t let them eat up your life.
You are in no way a failed actor. You are a great entertainer and a loveable Person.
Sorry for my bad english.
I wish you and your family only the best.
Greetings from Germany
Thank you for your blog. I’m glad you are holding strong. I never joined twitter and am very glad that it was never part of my life. I think you are a wonderful person and as a 63 year old woman, always loved Wesley Crusher. So stay strong.
Oh, so that’s where you went. Love your story of adoption. My daughter was adopted by her step-dad and he is one of the best dads I have ever encountered. Some people thought he was stupid for taking on the legal responsibility. He would tell them, ‘if you have to ask you won’t get it.’ Our daughter is now 33, married to a wonderful guy and we have 2 amazing grandkids!
Will I hear you regarding twitter, however I really think that it is only going to go downhill from here, once something becomes a vehicle for hate and anger, all bets are off. Good Luck
I read whatever you write. Your TableTops are fun and uplifting; your audiobooks are funny and nuanced. As a fellow stepDad, I admire your love and passion for your adult children. Priorities are the greatest challenge of our lives. The world conspires to steal our attention, and accessibility is the curse of the modern world. I hope the narrowing of your focus brings you success and joy.
I signed out of Twitter tonight for what I’m expecting to be a long break. I agree with the point that #deactiday makes. Money talks. If a little ad revenue is lost for a bit due to users leaving, good, hopefully it will be enough for the big cheese to take notice and do something to crack down on viral bigoting. I’m going to watch and wait and see how this plays out. Best wishes in the meantime.
I think you should edit “America’s shameful behavior” remark and include the Native Americans. They are still being persecuted today.
You were the very first person I followed on Twitter on my very first account. I deeply appreciate you sharing so much. I’m sorry it got stupid and hard. I think humans are going through some growing pains, and once this part has passed, I hope kindness reigns. Until then, thank you and your family again for being a virtual human shield on the front lines of social awareness while we watched and learned and followed. ❤
Thank you for sharing that beautiful story with us. <3 I’ve always preferred blogs, due to their “letter”-like feel. While it was fun following you on Twitter, I (we?) understand. 🙂
I saw it and read it! I don’t use twitter, or any social media really. (Well, except email but that’s passe’ now.) I still buy books and find things on the internet.
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