Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I define insanity as posting to Instagram over and over and expecting to dismantle beauty culture. Or maybe that’s foolishness?
I quit Instagram last year to keep from going insane, or to stop being a damn fool. It wasn’t good for my self-image, it’s probably not good for yours, and it felt increasingly bizarre to post anti-establishment beauty writing there when it was immediately overpowered by filtered, Photoshopped, FaceTuned photos — a scrolling sea of Instagram Faces — and pseudo-scientific ingredient infographics that reinforced the beauty standards I was attempting to break down. In our Active Voice podcast episode, Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie asked me a question I get a lot: “Doesn’t that mean you should post your work on Instagram, to meet people where they need it?” (I’m paraphrasing.) My answer is no, I don’t need to martyr myself over there, I’m not that important! I don’t need to resign my brain to social media rot in order to do good work. No one does.
So I abandoned my professional Instagram (you can read more about it in The Atlantic), I went private on Twitter, and I reinvested my effort into this Substack newsletter and its readers instead.
A couple weeks ago, though, I waded back into the social waters with Substack’s latest feature, Notes. Notes looks and feels like a calmer take on Twitter. It’s a space to post short-form content — mostly words and quotes and comments and links to articles, sometimes photos (but not, like, filtered-selfie-photos). It’s a way to connect writers to readers, and readers to readers, and writers to writers. It’s free. It’s funded by Substack subscribers, not corporate advertisers, and calls itself a “subscription network” rather than a “social media network.” This essentially means Notes doesn’t prioritize content that encourages outrage or status anxiety or shopping links — all things that drive maximum attention to advertisers, which is why most social media is so awful, I think — but good writing, good questions, and thoughtful comments. So far, I like it! It seems healthier for me, more valuable for you, and has none of the visual mindfuckery of Instagram or TikTok or whatever.
Substack Notes is open to anyone — writers, readers, lurkers, compulsive posters — and if you’re so inclined, you can join me there!
I plan to use it for things that don’t fit in the newsletter, like snippets of unhinged PR emails:
or links to beauty-related articles I’m reading:
or pictures of the ducklings that hatched in my garden:
maybe I’ll even get back into memes!
How to join
Head to substack.com/notes or find the “Notes” tab in the Substack app. As a subscriber to The Unpublishable, you’ll automatically see my notes. Feel free to like, reply, or share them around!
You can also share notes of your own. I hope this becomes a space where readers can share thoughts, ideas, and interesting quotes from the things we’re reading on Substack and beyond.
If you encounter any issues, you can always refer to the Notes FAQ for assistance.
I am very extremely triggered by that meme 😂. Not least because I got melasma every summer through my SPF50 BEFORE I EVEN STARTED ALL THE GODDAMN ACTIVES. There must be a metaphor for this. Like bailing out a boat as fast as the water is coming back in or something...
I have spent the past week trying to figure out if I can deactivate my personal IG and just keep my hobby one. (Yes, you can, but it always requires more effort than I have at that moment.) Of course I'd probably sink into the same bad habits with the hobby account eventually. Yay modern times!!