The Breaking Of The Followship
Everyone’s headed to the lifeboats. For me, this newsletter has become that. A bit about where it’s been; a bit of what’s to come. Hopefully we’re just getting warmed up.
Note: this essay was originally published on Revue on December 4, 2022.
Hello all. Me again.
I find myself, for the first time in many months, not writing about repair and sabotage of repair—at least not directly.
Whew! That was a long one, huh?
Here’s a short one.
I didn’t know for sure when I started that “Sabotage” would expand as much as it did, but I had an inkling it might be a topic that kept on building upon itself, and by the 2nd or 3rd installment I knew I had a live one on the line. Thanks for sticking with me as I pulled the whole thing up into the boat over the course of about 6 (!) months. Ever since the disturbing but unignorable revelations of American fascism that arrived in 2015-16 demolished my worldview, I’ve been working on a total rebuild, and this felt like an end of sorts; if not a final summation, at least a perch upon which to land for a season.
When I started the newsletter in September 2021, it was an experiment. I’d spent about 4 years writing most of my political and cultural thinking primarily on Twitter, on increasingly lengthy threads, and had a growing sense that, as much as I enjoy the platform, I had more to say than Twitter’s constraints could allow. So, when I got a little prompt from the site that they now had a newsletter application, on a whim, I jumped. I can now say confidently that this sense was entirely correct. Writing essays here has meant a lot to me, and what’s meant even more is the fact that so many of you have stuck with it. I’ve reached a point where this is probably my preferred method of expression online.
And not only that: it’s the one I feel I can count on, as the great ship social media seems to be listing to one side and taking on water. Twitter site killed the hobby blog star, and maybe it’s happening again. Or maybe not; perhaps it’s premature to read social media its last rites … but there does seem to be a splintering happening—a breaking of the followship, so to speak. It sort of feels like we’re all calling our handles into the void, trying to hold on to each other, to keep ourselves tethered to friendships formed and maintained on online corporate platforms.
We’re heading to the lifeboats.
This is my lifeboat. Come aboard; there’s plenty of room.
The deal I made with everybody at the start was that I’d keep writing the newsletter as long as I wanted to, and you could keep reading as long as you wanted to. That seems to have worked out well for all of us. I’m glad you seem to be interested in continuing to read; I’d say for my part it now seems I’ll keep wanting to write it indefinitely.
But it does tire one out, especially when the essays creep over 5,000 words.
I imagine it tires out the reader, too.
Sorry if so.
So I’m taking a little break. I’ll be taking December off, and then I’ll be back in January—probably early January, though maybe the time off will suit me well, and I’ll take a little longer than that.
Here’s what I think 2023 will look like:
1) LOST Season 2. Really looking forward to getting back to this. I had an instinct that I’d want to finish Sabotage in 2022, and that a break in the LOST recap would probably also be right, as we came to the end of Season 1. That said I’m itching to get back to Jacob and Smokey and their argument, and to start peeling back the layers of the enigmas of Ben Linus and Desmond Hume. As before, I think alternating weeks of LOST and political/social essays seems a proper cadence.
2) Shorter weekly essays. I … think? Hope? We’ll see. I think I’ve proved that I can write long. I’d like to focus and see if I can deliver short—or at least shorter. If I can do shorter essays, maybe I can do more essays, the sort of things that might have once been Twitter threads … but maybe let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
3) Moving Time. Speaking of Twitter threads … Hey! You may have noticed that I alluded to this already, but in case you haven’t, a narcissist Bond villain bought Twitter and has spent all his time firing most of his staff and bringing back previously banned Nazis, and seems to be doing most of it so that far-right hate trolls will tell him he’s the coolest (though the idea of deliberate strategic sabotage in service of defending a status quo geared toward brokenness is rarely far from my mind these days). Anyway, people I want nothing to do with are flooding into Twitter, and droves of cool people I like and follow (and who follow me) are leaving, and some things aren’t working as smoothly as they once did, and the whole place is starting to feel like a failed mall, or an abandoned carnival.
It’s not great.
I’m probably staying on Twitter until the thing implodes, but I also find myself less interested in spending time there the less fun it is to be there. I am having fun on Mastodon, so hey come find me there if you want. I’m doing excerpts of The Revisionaries for the last couple Sundays and probably the next few Sundays, and I’m doing a thread of my favorite movies from each year, and the expanded character limit lets me write capsule reviews. It’s fun stuff. Come on over.
But here’s the problem: This newsletter is hosted by Revue, and Revue is owned by Twitter, and as much as I like the platform, I just don’t trust it to … well, exist, in a going-forward-into-the-future sort of way. All things Twitter seem unstable these days. Batshit owner with zero impulse control, and all that.
What that probably means is an investment in stability, which probably means a migration to a new platform. Right now Substack seems most likely, but it’s early days and there’d be a lot of work to do. Whatever happens, I don’t think it’s going to change anybody’s experience much, but I just wanted to let you know, to give you time to register your comments if you have any, and so it’s not a surprise if and when it happens.
4) Nah … this one is way too early to say.
See you in a month or so.
A.R. Moxon is the author of the novel The Revisionaries, from Melville House, which is available in most of the usual places and some of the unusual places, and co-writer of Sugar Maple, a musical fiction podcast from Osiris Media which goes in your ears. He pruned the hedges of many small villages.