A Change is Gonna Come

A Change is Gonna Come

Let’s just get this out of the way: Since Elon Musk took control of Twitter about two weeks ago, the social media site has become home to more racism and bigotry. Using Twitter has felt disjointed and chaotic, and the future of the Twitter-owned platform this newsletter utilizes is bleak.

These things are well beyond my control, but they do mean that changes are coming to Chile Street.

This newsletter comes to your inbox via a service called Revue. It allows me to lay out each issue, add images and links, and then have it automatically mailed to subscribers at midnight each Friday. Revue is owned by Twitter though, and credible rumors say that the service will be shut down by the end of the year. And even if that turns out to be false or Revue is saved at the 11th hour, given the absolute turmoil at Revue’s parent company, I’m not particularly interested in continuing use of Revue anyway.

Chile Street will soon migrate to Substack, a similar newsletter creation service. Ironically, when I took control of Chile Street from Marie Baca in July of 2021, we were already using Substack. Why did we leave? Because Substack had its own chaos at the time. First came an influx of disinformation about Covid-19, then a slew of transphobic propaganda. At the same time, Twitter had just purchased Revue as part of a push to attract more writers to Twitter, so it seemed like the right time to make the move.

But then the Great Twitter Implosion of 2022 came and, well, here we are.

Have things changed at Substack since then? Yes and no. Since last summer, Substack’s management has acknowledged the above problems and promised to snuff out “dubious or objectionable” material on the platform. Things seem to have improved, but they’re not perfect. Of course, the perfect platform for delivering a newsletter is probably nonexistent. The line between free speech and censorship is always fine, and so, with some reluctance, Chile Street is moving back to Substack.

I’ve never published on Substack, and I anticipate some kind of learning curve, so please bear with me as I figure it out. Most likely, this issue of Chile Street will be the final one on Revue, and beginning with the Nov. 18 issue, the newsletter will come from Substack.

Little will change for readers. The layout will look different, and you might have to take steps to ensure Chile Street doesn’t land in your spam folder. Other than that, nothing drastic will change for you.

The collapse of Twitter might, however, change this newsletter in other ways. Until this week, I’ve used Twitter to cultivate and catalog news stories that are featured in Chile Street. Going forward, that will likely change.

Simply stated, Twitter is not a fun place to be anymore. The vibe is weird and dark, and the influx of “verified” check marks — and the accompanying accounts impersonating everyone from sports stars to elected officials — make it more difficult to discern valuable information from outright lies. If that’s not enough, there’s the profusion of crypto scam accounts posing as official accounts, too.

I liken Twitter today to the scene in “Back to the Future Part II” where Marty and Doc return to 1985 only to learn that it’s an alternative version of the year they knew. Things look similar, but somehow worse. The people you think you know don’t act the same as they used to, and an insecure and broken man-child is in charge of everything.

That chaos spreads into the usability of the site as well, where the ill-conceived ideas of a mercurial leader are rolled out as features to every user, instead of first being tested among a small group of users. When they fail, they’re removed hours later.

Musk said on Thursday that bankruptcy was a possibility, and that he’s sold some of his stake in Tesla to “save” Twitter. Like a drunken gambler on a bad loosing streak, Musk continues to bet on the next thing in hopes that he wins big and regains all he’s thrown away.

Anyway, this is to say that Twitter will no longer be part of my process for selecting items for this newsletter. I’ve got some ideas on how I’ll do things without using Twitter, but again I ask that you bear with me as I fine tune along the way.

Once the dust settles, I think all these changes will lead to an even better Chile Street. As they say: Sometimes change is what we need.

Ryan Lowery, editor