Let's Give a Lukewarm Welcome
Okay, folks. I’m getting superbly tired of writing essays and pieces that are NOT my usual genre fiction material, but it seems almost necessary at this point, because a lot of folks deserve to know up front the following points:
One- I seem to recall that for the last couple of years, a metric fuckton of the folks now making their way over here onto Substack were calling the platform a ‘toxic hellhole’ and similar derogatory labels because Substack has, since early on, had the spine to stand by its contributors and say “All perspectives are welcome to share their writing, so long as they do not violate the letter of the law”. I stood by this service then, and I stand by it now, even as it is flooded with people who will no doubt immediately begin demanding that some users be removed from the service.
Two- I have seen no less than twenty different people on Twitter get re-tweeted by Substack itself and using the term ‘Musk-ing’ as if this is an actual verb. Given that this is purportedly a space for folks to do the hard work of constructing literate material to be taken in and enjoyed by the general public, I would have hoped that the folks running Substack might at least playfully point out that inventing new terms to describe shifts in policy and performance on Twitter that have not yet even taken full or semi-permanent hold over that platform might not be a great indicator of an individual’s capacity for quality writing.
Three- If you’re starting up a Substack in the hopes that you can evade what you view as an insurmountable challenge in new or returning users coming at you on Twitter to call you out for your own previously shitty behavior toward them, consider going someplace else. Myself and a lot of other non-political users have been slowly but surely producing material here on Substack for a goodly while now, and we have spent a good amount of time and energy building this place up as a location for quality writing that doesn’t necessarily have to cross paths with the overtly political. If we see Substack become the next in a string of sites/services that gets infected with your particular brand of nonsense, we’re going to end up moving on.
Four- Where were you when this site was tiny? When it was barely getting up and running? You were on Medium, or Twitter, or your own Facebook Pages, or Tumblr, pelting out piece after piece, tweet after tweet, having a good old time and making sure to purge your precious spaces of anyone who didn’t pass your ideological purity tests. And whenever Substack came into the conversation here and there, you snarled that it was a ‘bastion of transphobic hatemongers’, when the vast, VAST majority of the individual user pages and ‘Stacks’ as they are referred to had nothing to do with any conversation even in that socio-political space.
Now, when Substack started handing out guaranteed money to a small handful of content creators in an effort to put eyeballs on the site, I grumbled a little bit, but then admitted that it was probably a good idea. In the long run, I ended up defending the decision, because, well, why should I care? Sure, those folks were getting paid to wield their influence, because they brought big audiences here. I DON’T. I’m a small-timer here, man, and likely will always be, but the very fact that Substack allows me to continue plying my particular trade on their service is more than payment enough. Any lack of success in growing my audience is purely down to me and me alone. Substack doesn’t owe me a following or any additional support, and they don’t owe me any kind of special protections against folks coming into my comments section and trolling me. They give me the tools to delete such things, or allow me to rely on my own innate ability to, you know, IGNORE THEM, and they leave it at that.
So, in closing, let me say this: I offer you newcomers a lukewarm welcome to Substack. If you’re able to offer something new, something relevant, or something simply enjoyable to the platform, then kudos to you, and maybe I’ll even consider becoming a regular reader. But if your sole purpose for coming to Substack is in order to continue doing what you did before on Twitter, then I genuinely hope you crash and burn here.
And thanks to the freedom of expression granted by Substack’s hands-off approach, I’m more than free to tell you that. Cheers.