Dear Substack: Quit Sending Me Your Corporate Propaganda
There will now be a brief interruption in your usually scheduled content. Please stand by.
I actually started writing a post about this on Medium before scrapping it was it was entirely too long and verbose, so I’ll keep this one brief: Substack? Quit sending me shit like this. It’s enough.
First off, I do not “own” Substack because I have an account here, and I can drill down into the ToS if I must to demonstrate that. But we’ll set that aside as mere artistic license and get into the meat of why I hate this.
The choice to utilize any particular service is, at heart, a business decision. You make that decision on the basis of things like features, cost, and reliability - or at least you should.
But companies have long used appeals to emotion as part of their marketing. When this is just in the ads, it’s not cause for concern. However, the more central that emotional argument is to the company pitch, the less you should trust them. Example: Many cryptocurrency scammers spoke of “creating communities” as a means of downplaying the money making aspect of their investment instrument. If they’re appealing to your desire to belong, it’s because they don’t want you to crunch the numbers.
I am accustomed to getting messages from the various online services I use. Typically, it’s to announce a new feature or a change in the rules - something actionable that I really need to know. Substack is maybe the only one that sends messages to tell me that I am part of a “movement” and that we’re all going to change the world together.
At the risk of oversimplifying things, that’s bullshit.
By your own admission, a large part of the traffic to this site comes from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and all those other services you rail against in your pieces decrying the “attention economy” or whatever other media-friendly buzzwords have been filling the air lately. As it stands, you are not a “private social network” or a vision of a better internet. You are an extension of what exists now.
Substack is, effectively, a service that enables already famous individuals to make money by walling off bits of their content to the vulgate and then sell it back to them. For all the talk you’ve made about changing things, your service remains an absolute nightmare of discovery. There is no meaningful way to grow an audience on this site - it has to come from outside. Those dreaded “attention economy” sites are the life support system that keeps you breathing.
If you really want to challenge the “attention economy,” then you need a site that doesn’t require that kind of support. You need something that can help smaller creators - you know, the kind of people who don’t have audiences willing to pay hundreds of dollars per year to read their goddamn blogs.
Until you can offer me that, lay off with the “movement” horseshit. It really is enough.
We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.
Thanks for watching me rant about a bunch of sanctimonious idiots! If you liked that, you’re really going to love The Remnant Pieces: