Do You Like Living in a World Full of Filthy Rich, Anti-Vaxxing Fascist Bloggers?

I hope not.

Do You Like Living in a World Full of Filthy Rich, Anti-Vaxxing Fascist Bloggers?
Photo by Leonardo Yip on Unsplash

Today, I got this note from a former supporter:

"Please cancel my subscription. There are Covid cautious bloggers who don't endorse voting for a genocidal maniac who willfully encourages Covid to spread (Biden). In fact, there are those of us in the Covid cautious community who realize that voting is a total scam."

This same person sent me a note last year, telling me how much respect they had for me, while trying to convince me to write a hit piece on other prominent members of the Covid community.

I'm glad I didn't.

As far as endorsing Biden goes, it's weird. More often, I've been accused of undermining him. So how did I endorse Biden? I think that cheerful little note is referencing a recent piece on Covid that said this:

Millions of people feel deeply alienated over the current administration's Covid response. They would be more likely to vote if they believed, for a second, that people cared about them.

Is that an endorsement of Biden?

No, I think it's just telling the truth. Maybe if the Biden administration ended their silence on mask bans, if they devoted more attention to better vaccines and research on Long Covid, they might win back some voters. I don't envision them doing that, but it's worth saying.

It's worth pointing out that those two sentences come at the end of a very long, detailed piece explaining why we still need everyone to take Covid seriously, and what we need going forward. It was 3,000 words, bringing together countless hours of research and writing over the last two years. Out of all that, this person went hunting for the 30 or 40 words they didn't like, and they used that as a reason to withdraw their support.

People, this is why we can't have nice things.

It generates a question:

Do you want to live in a world where someone can spend countless hours researching and writing a piece about Covid, and their own supporters go looking for two sentences they don't like?

I hope not.

While there are definitely other Covid cautious voices out there, some really good ones, I would say we need as many of them as we can get. We should be supporting them, not looking for reasons to tear them down.

Anyway, I should probably thank this person. They've finally demonstrated to me what happens in the minds of the people who attack members of their own community for saying and doing things they don't completely agree with. If something like this has happened to you, then it's probably not your fault. They were looking for a punching bag.

Anyway, is voting a total scam?


But even now, it's more accurate to say that voting is never enough. Our problem is that too many people vote blindly for their party every 2-4 years. In the meantime, they do absolutely nothing. They don't stay informed on the issues. They don't vote in primaries, or they only vote for the "most likely" candidate to win. They don't criticize their own team. They don't push back. Many of them won't even wear a mask to protect themselves or their communities.

For the record, I think you should vote however you want. Vote for whatever your conscience will tolerate. That's what I endorse.

There's a meme going around that quotes Keanu Reeves. He says, "I'm at that stage of life where I stay out of discussions. Even if you say 1+1=5, you're right. Have fun." Over the last couple of weeks, having been attacked and publicly shamed from every angle, I think I get it.

Sometimes it's worth taking a look at the biggest indie writers out there, the ones with huge followings on platforms like Ghost and Substack. There's a trend. You see names like Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Noah Smith, and Emily Oster. You see publications like Doomberg. For every ten of those, there's maybe one Katelyn Jetelina or Heather Cox Richardson.

The other day, I saw a few posts over at Substack complaining about the recommendation algorithms. People are getting drowned in anti-vax, anti-mask, pseudo-fascist garbage. They can't get away from it.

Even the more outspoken "left" publications tread lightly on topics like public health or climate collapse. Many of them say nothing at all on these topics. Some of the big voices I used to admire now praise the Biden administration for their oil and gas production, which is strange because I thought we were trying to reduce our fossil fuel reliance. They, too, remain silent regarding our greatest existential threats.

It's a weird space to live in.

Many of the publications I'm referring to have tens of thousands of supporters, including readers willing to defend them to the bitter end. I've been writing online for years now, and I have a good idea what makes a publication shine.

You have to tick the boxes.

There's the neoliberal box. There's the fascist anti-vaxxer box. There's the concerned liberal box, and the outraged liberal box. There's the rainbow liberal box. There's the climate warrior box. There's the bright green, techno-optimist box. There's the progressive pro-union box. All of them tell their audiences exactly what they want to hear, all the time.

There's a script you have to follow.

They never deviate.

If you want tens of thousands of supporters, you have to operate at the polar ends of the cultural-political spectrum. You have to be a total vaxxed and relaxed neoliberal. Or you have to be a total anti-vaxxing fascist. Or you have to be a total left-leaning socialist, who ironically says nothing about Covid or public health. Or you have to talk exclusively about AI, startups, self-help, and cryptocurrency.

Those are the boxes and their narratives.

If you say something that ticks more than one box, then suddenly 70 percent of the internet turns on you. That's not a good setup for actually saying anything like the truth. Here are the worst things you can say:

Maybe Covid started in a lab and we should take it seriously.
Maybe the U.S. could try harder to coexist with Russia and China rather than warmongering.
The U.S., Russia, and China have all made horrible mistakes while doing terrible things to their own people.
Maybe the power structures created by affluent men and reinforced by affluent women aren't so great.
Maybe feminism could benefit men, too.
It's weird to bash Democrats on Covid and Gaza, then get angry when someone says they're not going to vote for Biden, or that he might be suffering the consequences of his own failed public health policies.

Writers like me don't have it easy. When we manage to write something that articulates the truth while resonating widely and deeply, everyone praises us. Almost nobody signs up to support our work unless we beg them. When we say something that runs afoul of the scripts, people can't wait to grandstand and virtue signal. They do it by unsubscribing, withdrawing their support, or publicly shaming us. People love to write comments explaining how disappointed they are in their flawed interpretation of something we said.

There's a term from library science that I've written about a few times, vocational awe. Anyone who works as a nurse, teacher, daycare worker, paramedic, or true public servant understands this term. They've lived it every day.

Put simply:

There's an inverse correlation between the value someone provides and how much society measures their contributions. It's why essential workers are paid the lowest while held to the highest standards, expected to sacrifice their own health and happiness for the sake of others. If they ever suggest they're worth more, everyone turns on them.

Even liberals do it.

To top it all off, some of our readers who enjoy our work are also eager to tell us we shouldn't bother writing about pandemics, climate collapse, corruption, or human psychology because nobody will listen to us.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm just not good enough. Maybe I'm not as good a writer as Matt Taibbi or Emily Oster.

A List of Posts

So, let's get to the point. Do you like getting bombarded with recommendations and ads for fascist, anti-vaxxer blogs and newsletters? Do you like living in a world where vaxxed and relaxed economists make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars writing about the damage caused by lockdowns and vaccines? Do you like having your social media dominated by pro-genocide eugenicists? Well, it's happening because those writers get support.

Do you like living in a world where anyone who writes honestly and passionately is constantly accused of grifting?

Do you like living in a world where CNN, MSNBC, the NYT, and the WaPo are accused of being "anti-Biden," even though they spent the last two years cheerleading every single one of his policy decisions?

Today, my phone has been blowing up with demands for support. Barack Obama told me, "Whatever you've done so far is not enough." I find that ironic, as if Barack Obama knows that I spent nearly twenty years in the public education system, trying to teach literacy and critical thinking.

Do you like living in a world where writers who spread misinformation boast net worths in the millions, while writers who try to tell the unpleasant truth can barely pay their bills, and constantly deal with their own supposed supporters turning on them and making hate rants?

If so, then I'll quote Keanu Reeves.

Have fun.

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