I worry about…a lot of things, yes. And one thing I’ve come to realize I just don’t want to worry about is whether the web service I use to track e-mail delivery opt-in permissions for my hobbyist-level newsletter is actively interested in profiting off alignment with fascists. So, I’m leaving Substack.
I’ve already relaunched the Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks website; honestly, I think blog-style remains a better fit for me, anyway, once I get the motor revving again. Newsletters seem to demand a certain amount of polish for which I lack the temporal and mental bandwidth, and I’d prefer to post more often, more loosely, ideally in a way that’s more fun for me to do while still, hopefully, sometimes being interesting to someone other than me.
I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to move the newsletter subscription to another service. I know not everyone’s using RSS readers these days or following me on other sites, and so it might be nice to send out occasional reminders that the blog still exists. If that matters to you, please shout at me to let me know.
One thing I will miss is the motivation of hearing from people now and then via the comments. And honestly reading Doris Lessing along with Cari Luna and company was one of the best things I was involved in 2023, and I’d still really like to contribute some version of that to the world, myself, if I can. For that I’m eyeing up some of the new community features on The StoryGraph, which seem promising, even a little innovative, which is cool.
To be clear: I’m leaving Substack because I find the thought of using a tool actively interested in profiting off fascist interests just gross. There’s been a lot coming out the last few weeks, since I sent out my copy of the Substackers Against Nazis letter. I’m not rounding it all up here; Marisa Kabas has a good post here about some of it. (I can’t imagine the work she’s put into this effort; it’s worth at least a coffee or two.) Honestly though I just feel like spent too much of my holiday break thinking about this platform and how ugly it feels now and I don’t want that for me. I don’t want to support it with my being one more sender in their tally; minus-one’ing myself at this point is kind of nothing, in the big picture—at least, compared to a newsletter with 172,000 subscribers possibly leaving—but it matters to me.
Now, maybe I am making the wrong choice. But it’s my choice, and doing this reminds me that every time I use a platform or a service online, it is my choice to do so. These tools we use serve us—I am not here to serve them. Frankly, I should never have to give a single flying rat-bird gamma-quadrant fuck about Substack because there should always be alternatives, available choices, other things to use to do what I want to do or paths down which to direct my attentions and efforts.
There’s a quote from the show Halt and Catch Fire that I think about a lot; it’s a real quiet but real sticky moment and it should be taught in classes for decades to come. There’s a couple characters talking about the computers they’re building and Scoot McNairy’s character is really myopically into doing the computer itself, and Lee Pace’s character is trying to draw him back up to see the bigger picture: “Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets us to the thing.” I think about that a lot, because I know how guilty I am of making that mistake. But I want to start thinking more about what it is I’m—we’re—trying to get to, to do, here. I think I’m still trying to figure out what thing is, yet, but I do know Substack ain’t it.
I took a fairly strong “no swears” stance when I started the newsletter, mostly out of a fear of falling into e-mail spam filters or whatever. I kind of long thought I’d let myself have one, though, some day, as a little treat. I hope I used it well.
I’ve been on The StoryGraph for at least three years now, I think? And a paid subscriber for most of that time. So if you’re looking for a Goodreads alternative I’ll vouch for it: it remains a healthy-feeling platform on the Internet (no drama!).
Also, to be clear, I’ll keep subscribed to your newsletters, if you have them! I have this whole other line of thought going around “where do you draw the line, here, anyway” when it comes to this kind of thing that I don’t want to try to unravel yet because ugh it’s all so hard, isn’t it? But I mean for whatever it’s worth I’m still 100 percent here for you and your stuff, were that ever a concern.
Honestly I just think about Halt and Catch Fire a lot, like, all the time a lot. Haters will tell you the first season is bad. They are wrong and I am right: it’s a wonderful show, top to bottom, no misses, all hits. That quote above comes from the pilot episode, for frak’s sake. If nothing else go queue up that ep to get Lee Pace’s line reading stuck in your head, too, for the rest of time. Then let me know when you reach the final music drop of the series. I’ll be out here, somewhere, ready to nod, and definitely tear up with you a little, and say, “Yeah, I know.”