The State Of Things

Plans for the newsletter this summer, and three questions for you

The State Of Things

I think it’s time for a “state of the newsletter” post. A short one (at least by my standards).

Yyyyyit’s been six months since Revue imploded and this newsletter migrated to The ‘Stack, as I call it (not really).

I think I’ve mentioned before that this newsletter has become, in a few short months, my primary platform as a writer. It’s a wild thing to have experienced, and worth contemplating how this has happened.

I suppose you could say that in a sense I was forced into it. The world’s smartest man™ rather famously owns what had previously been my main platform, and he’s wrecking it, as you may have heard. The latest is, he wants to limit how many posts you can look at, because he didn’t pay his bills, which sounds like a joke, and I suppose it is, but not a funny one. There’s been a lot of speculation over whether the world’s smartest man™ is just profoundly foolhardy and ignorant of the value of what he’s purchased, or if he’s purposefully maliciously sabotaging something that is of value to the public but not to billionaires, but either way the effect is the same: he’s destroying Twitter and he’s doing it fast. Maybe Twitter won’t implode like a badly-constructed submersible, but it is descending and the captain does not inspire confidence. Maybe it won’t drown in a flood of bullshit, but we do have to wonder why the owner is demolishing the levees.

So yeah, everyone is making exit plans. But where to?

There are a lot of Twitter clones springing up, none of which have precisely replicated what made Twitter do what it did. It seems like it would be easy but apparently it is not. Some are better than others, none (in my opinion) are better at it than Twitter was when it wasn’t being demolished by an evil billionaire who talks to (and about) his users as if they were his adversaries, rather than the people who actually are responsible for whatever value he owns.

I’m on most of the clones, for what it’s worth. Threads is the latest. It’s great, you’d love it; it sort of sucks and it’s run by a different evil billionaire. Come find me there.

So that’s a reason that this newsletter is now my main platform as a writer: the active demolition of the previous one, leaving the text-based microblogging airliner strewn across the countryside in many different pieces.

But the main reason is all of you. You’ve found me here, and you read what I write, and by god a bunch of you actually pay me for it. It’s profound and deeply moving, if you want to know the truth. When I started this, I suggested that whether I continued would be up to all of you. Now, because of all of you, I can’t imagine not doing it. The more you read, the more I feel read, the more I feel that what I’m putting out there is valued. And I won’t lie, the money (as long as you can afford it1) doesn’t hurt either.

Because here’s the thing: whether or not Twitter dies, or whether or not I find another audience on what replaces it, all of that seems more and more dependent on the increasingly sociopathic whims of an increasingly small group of billionaires, who have risen high in a system that seems to reward taking great sustainable value and liquidating it for either short term gains, or even in some cases apparently just to satisfy an urge to watch something irreplaceable melt. It’s hard not to look at Elon Musk’s cartoon villain smirk-face and not see a cruel boy with a magnifying glass who just spotted an anthill.

It strikes me that the experience of being on Twitter is very much like the experience of living in the United States, or anywhere else where the whims of wealth hold the reins of power, where increasingly the answer wealth has for those of us experiencing misfortune or calamity—much of it brought on by conditions caused by the decisions of wealth—is: work for us until you can’t, then give us all your money to stay alive until it’s all gone, then die as politely as you can. And to be sure, many of us are far more vulnerable to this than others, because our systems are inherently supremacist, but a supremacist system is an unsustainable system, and an unsustainable system will not sustain, so the reason that you feel vulnerable is … you are.

Striking writers in the WGA must feel vulnerable, since the studios and streamers—distributors of the value the writers create—have escalated their policy of treating the creators of whatever value they own as if they are adversaries. I already wrote about them a couple months ago. It’s gotten worse.

The studios and streamers yesterday announced that they simply intend to use the wealth they’ve horded by exploiting the skill of writers to break those writers. The idea is that their immense wealth can act as a bulwark against losses, allowing them to wait out the writers they exploited, who will (as their reasoning goes) become broke and unhoused if they don’t agree to go on being exploited. It’s an open plot to relegate the very people responsible for their wealth to even greater insecurity and even worse conditions, rather than share even a pittance of profits derived from value which they had little if any hand in creating, all while doing a worse and worse job of the one thing they actually do, which is distribute it.

And it really feels like the boat all of us are in these days, whether we’re on Twitter or not, whether we’re writers or not. We’re one bad break away from the gutter, and those who insist they own the streets use funds that could be spent on helping people from washing out to make the gutters wider instead.

The answer, I think, is for us to all find each other … which is what this newsletter has been for me. This newsletter isn’t a platform; the newsletter is people: the person who writes it and the people who read it. And I suppose to an extent email is subject to the same whims and fancies of billionaires as social media platforms are, but at least it’s diffuse: harder to grasp, harder to demolish, easier to transport. Someday Substack might not be the place for me (it’s certainly got strikes against it) but if that day comes, I know we won’t have to find each other again.

It feels like a word that is misused a lot these days, which I use at the risk of sounding overweeningly earnest. It feels like freedom. This strikes me like I may have already said, but you know what? It’s worth repeating.

It’s a gift that you’ve given me. The gift of your attention, and the knowledge that you exist—and the connection which forms from that.

I deeply appreciate all of you. Thank you, very, very much.

OK, this went on longer than I expected, as it usually does.

What I’d like to do is give you a quick look at what I see happening for the rest of the year, and then I’d like to ask all subscribers, paid and unpaid, a few questions to help me understand how to make The Reframe the best The Reframe that it can possibly be.

If you want to answer them and you don’t subscribe, well just mash that subscribe button and bob’s your uncle.

Here’s what’s happening with me:

  • This summer, I’m probably going take several weeks off to recharge, probably around the end of this month.
  • Also, I’m shopping a manuscript. (That means I’m sending it out to people to see if they want to publish it.) What will happen? I’ll tell you when I find out!
  • Also, I’m planning on starting a new novel, based on an idea I’ve been thinking about for decades. It’s about gravity, but not rainbows.
  • And (brief vacation aside) you’ll see The Reframe plugging away with a newsletter a week.
  • If you’re a fan of LOST recaps, look for Season 3 recaps to begin sometime around late October.

OK, next, 3 quick questions for you:

Question 1
Question 2
Question 3

All done! That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Thanks again, and see you out there.


  1. I’ve had people unsubscribe because they’re going through lean times, and I want to be very very clear: that is the exact right thing to do, and I am very glad you did that. Please, please do not subscribe if money is an issue. This newsletter is kept free for a reason. And those of you who do subscribe, thank you for doing that; not just for yourself, but perhaps for somebody who’d like to pay and simply cannot.