When there is a lot of VC money sloshing around, you suddenly get ideas to present your “ideas” and your agendas. This is specifically called virtue signalling. They are presenting themselves as a medium for “free-speech”.
Something from their blog:
Society has a trust problem. More censorship will only make it worse.
“If you shut down Facebook tomorrow,” she said, “it’s not going to make this go away. It’ll just move.” Public health solutions, then, would have to come from a different approach. “We don’t have a misinformation problem,” Larson said. “We have a trust problem.”
They have something more to say:
Declining trust is both a cause and an effect of polarization, reflecting and giving rise to conditions that further compromise our confidence in each other and in institutions. These effects are especially apparent in our digital gathering places. To remain in favor with your in-group, you must defend your side, even if that means being selectively honest or hyperbolic, and even if it means favoring conspiratorial narratives over the pursuit of truth. In the online Thunderdome, it is imperative that you are not seen to engage with ideas from the wrong group; on the contrary, you are expected to marshall whatever power is at your disposal – be it cultural, political, or technological – to silence their arguments.
This is called cultural jousting. It becomes part of hubris (and some nudge) to get on social media. The engagement metrics are heavily loaded to keep users “enraged”. That’s why I automate all my accounts without actually partaking in them. It doesn’t matter if I get “verified” with the blue-tick or not – what matters is that I keep my sanity intact. It is important to stay focused on low volume information channels to keep the mental bandwidth free for ideas, and herein, freestyle blogging is more useful.
Substack owns the distribution and monetisation – the crazy amount of money is being spent on parking themselves as the new “media alternative” and as a gateway. I won’t be surprised if they manually promote specific blogs (or tweak algorithms) to promote specific agendas. Those who depend on it for their sustenance should realise that it is always better to own the platform. You can always redirect users in myriad ways and shift to your own distribution channels. You won’t have the numbers, but it will be a resilient source of income. My blog isn’t. It is because I write for myself.
As its network effects grow, Substack will become another “newsletter led social media” or experiment with other forms. I don’t know what their product roadmap is, but it’s suffice to assume that gatekeeping for information starts with VC money. These kind of linked essays may win some brownie points, but they are far divorced from reality. You don’t need social media to keep your thoughts truncated. Just have a blog and find your own individual voice. You would see where your world view holds.