cw: change, personal ethical choices
If you’re reading this in your email inbox, that means I have successfully moved my Substack subscribers to my refreshed website, which I am using along with MailerLite (that’s a referral link, a non-referral link is here) to write and send my writing out into the world.
(If it didn’t work, well shit, I tried really hard.)
There are a handful of websites and services that I read through, signed up for, and played around with, before settling on this configuration of things. This way, I can own my content by way of owning the website it’s on, which I host on a server that I pay for. Digitally speaking, it’s the closest to ownership that one can get, I think.
Part of my issue with most things is that they don’t LOOK pretty to me. I am very interested in whether or not my work is aesthetically pleasing to my own eye, and Substack was doing a pretty good job of scratching that itch until I became aware of just how problematic and dangerous the platform itself has become.
I don’t want to discourage anyone else from using it. I think it’s an individual judgment call, although I would like to encourage you to use a different platform that isn’t run by people whose values are not the same as yours, if you can. Not everyone can, and I acknowledge my privilege — I have enough resources to pay for hosting, and enough design and code years behind me that I can take a WordPress theme I already like and make it look the way my imagination guides me.
I haven’t moved my death doula writing yet, but that’s a project for later. (Probably sooner than later, who am I kidding. I’m so hyperfocused that I keep forgetting to eat and go to the bathroom and drink water.)
I want to say that this started with needing to leave Twitter, but that’s not entirely true.
There are plenty of things I stopped using or participating in online, or drastically scaled back my time spent there.
I used to exclusively use the Thesis theme for WordPress (I’m not linking to their site because I don’t want to give them the delicious SEO), and I stopped when I found out what a terrible asshole the theme creator is. It was my comfortable space; I had spent years perfecting my ability to customize and restructure it for new design clients and for my own web spaces. And I spent months afterward bouncing around, trying to figure out what I could do next. This coincided with my scaling back my work in web dev and design, and whether or not the timing was good, it certainly led to me winding that work down; I don’t do it at all any more except for myself and whatever projects I’ve dipped my little fingers into.
I used to use Facebook as a power user, administrating groups and interacting with people almost hourly during certain periods of the day. I made a lot of really important relationships there, and then it started to suck as each new UI overhaul and company pivot affected the way the users were able to use that damn site at all. It became almost impossible for me to use it for my work, and after a couple of long breaks that I hadn’t meant to take for health reasons, the website (and the app) became almost unusable for me. I still check up on people every now and then, and I try to remember to link my writing there when it’s ready for the world, but it’s more of a token of my ongoing quiet attention than anything else. I don’t know if I’ll ever delete my account there, but I have definitely never been able to recover the way I used to be able to use it.
Then Twitter — god damn, that was really hard. I was power-using Twitter in a way that had become so comfortable that it was, for me, releasing an addiction to wean myself away from it so that I could delete my account for safety reasons. I’m using Mastodon for my social media expression now, and between writing essays at (formerly) Substack and dipping into my Mastodon instance feed a couple of times a day, I feel good about what I’ve left behind and what I’ve chosen to keep.
I think we’ve all been leaving things behind as we’re able.
Family members that don’t support us the way we need them to, identities that have become dissonant, the religious beliefs of our families of origin, fandoms for authors and comedians that we used to love. Relationships that used to be our lifelines. Social groups we’ve grown away from.
I don’t believe that any of us are always looking for another thing to say ‘no’ to. I’m pretty sure that NOT needing to change what we’re doing is preferable to figuring out what to do next in the absence of that thing, especially if it was a big part of our lives. But right now, there’s a huge amount of information we have about social issues and political moves and the dirty laundry of people that used to be able to lie through their teeth on the regular.
Do we want to have to respond to these kinds of things? I don’t think so. Change is always a stressful experience, to a lesser or greater degree. And what we’re having to do is choose to change, to spend our precious time and energy looking for what’s better, what’s less harmful, what’s more loving for ourselves and for our communities. We are several generations undergoing an amount of exposure to information that is actually impossible to get through every day, which means we have to trust people to tell us the truth; and when one of those people ends up being found out a liar? Add another thing to the list of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.
This is another privilege that I have — the people that I trust with information that they hyperfocus on in order to be the most informed people about those things — they haven’t let me down yet. It’s not my job to keep track of security risks, either political or online or both. It’s not my specialty and it doesn’t have to be, although I always get a huge list of supporting information when I get to catch up on This Shit Is Fucked Up And This Is What Happened (you’d better sit down first).
I try to pass along as much of this information as I can, but for you, it’s second-hand or maybe third-hand information. Sometimes, what I know is information that can keep me and mine safe, and it never really goes further than that. I don’t like that this is true, and my god complex is certainly annoyed about it, but that’s just the way it is. I’m not sure that I’d say we live in a post-truth era, but I would say that we live in an era of untruth. It’s not the cleaner version of lying to your face when you already know it’s a lie; it’s the shuffling cups to hide a solitary pea — we know it’s lying, but we don’t know how it happened exactly and because of that, it’s really difficult to trace a direct path between the lie and the liar.
Here’s the playlist I’ve been making this month, and here’s my love to you as you try to figure out how to fucking live in this messy, no-nice-things world.
I wish you a cool side of the pillow and a blanket that’s not too warm.
P.S. If you happened upon this post and aren’t subscribed for content but would like to be, there’s a handy dandy subscription form in the sidebar, and if you can’t see it for whatever reason, you can always send me an email or a text and ask me to put you on the list. The next Mercury Gatorade (I do love a good in-joke) is looming and things are already somewhat awry.
P.P.S. I decided that I am now reading banned books, and if I remember to do it, I’m updating the list that I’ve put in the sidebar. So far I read the deluxe version of GENDERQUEER and it was even better than the original version.