32 Comments
founding

Rounders is in my top ten. Now whenever I see a Russian mobster on TV, I think (know) he's riffing off JM.

I wrote a short post, below, about Worm as the quintessential friend you know you shouldn't be friends with.

https://robertsdavidn.substack.com/p/short-post-ed-nortons-worm-in-rounders

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HOLY FUCKING MOLY HAPPY BELATED

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Another banger of a post. I think your Substack was my fastest ever progression from discover to subscribe to upgrade except for Julia Sweeney, whose blog was my absolute favorite back in the age of bloggery & I forked over my numbers for her annual sub within seconds of realizing she was posting here.

Re "the only currency left is fame" — I read Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom around 2006 and I feel like ever since then I've been watching his "whuffie" concept play out like he wrote a book of prophecy instead of speculative fiction. Have you read it? Seems up your alley. In his vision of the future, implanted tech lets everyone view the klout/reputation/cumulative likes of every person they encounter, with real-time upping and downing of your whuffie levels displaying in the air over your head. Already chilling to read back in the page-view days (or that weird evolution ranking where your blog would be labeled, like, an ameoba or an armadillo or a jaguar based on engagement?) and ever since then, I've watched as new and more soulsucking forms of whuffie entered the picture.

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Happy birthday Alex!! I did subscribe today. I had already subscribed for that outrageous monthly rate and had to unsubscribe so I could properly subscribe at your birthday rate.

I just love your newsletter. My sister told me about it. You have TWO subscribers on this one street.

I still do the old-fashioned antique blogging thing. And I love connecting with people online.

I like to think I am not being impacted by social media like everyone else. A little egocentric? But anyway. Great great newsletter and HB again.

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I’m in for poker! I used to play for a living back in the day but hardly play anymore. btw, pocket queens are the third best hand, not big slick

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Well done Alex, love this essay!

I've noticed my well-being tank when I go down the rabbit hole of folks writing about Substack numbers and 'how to do' Substack. When I first started my newsletter it was simply because I was thrilled about writing here and meeting all the worlds coolest people who also hang out here. Then it shifted to the inner craving for growth, feeling like I don't measure up to all those growing faster, and generally I felt lousy. I've taken a step back to refocus on why I am here and continue to enjoy the amazing folks in this internet neighborhood and I feel very much better. So, your post resonated with me. The regular social media platforms are so lame now that I don't want to go there so that is becoming less of an issue.

I didn't play poker as a kid but I did learn to drink and party at a very young age (a different kind of poker🤣) and I got to the point where, kind of like internet use, I realized it was taking more than it was giving and had to let it go. Same addiction, different form.

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Nice touch, the bit on poker. For a head space in poker, I found personally, play to break even/stay in the game. It drove the good players who played to "win" nuts. I'd come out ahead most of the time by playing to break even. It also helps if you get a sense of the other player's tells. Playing to break even might have kept my tells more in the noise. Or, maybe I'm fooling myself.

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Wtf this is so good how could you

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This is great, and I hope you get back on the “no phone” train.

There’s one thing that keeps being missed in these discussions, though: I don’t think it’s social media. I’m positive that social media sucks, no doubt, it’s doing terrible things to you. But like I’ve mentioned here before I’m not on any social media and yet I was spending 5-6 hours a day on my phone. Substack, Spotify, whatever else. I suspect that social media without smart phones would be a tame animal. Speaking as an outsider: y’all didn’t lose your minds until Facebook was in your pocket.

I’ve been doing much the same thing as you for a couple of months now. If it helps get you or someone else here back on track, let me tell you how good it’s been: I am, above all else, connecting with my children way better when my phone is locked away than I was with it always in my pocket. I know that’s a little esoteric, though, so if you want something more dramatic and easy to quantify: I’ve gone from finishing a book every six weeks to finishing a book a week. That is insane and it’s enriched my life enormously. Scaled up like that your reading habits become something entirely different. Richer.

I get a lot - maybe most - of my reading done on my commute. An hour each way. When I don’t look at my phone that’s two hours a day, three days a week, guaranteed. It’s wonderful; I look forward to my commute now as the best part of my day (that’s crazy). I’m working my way through the Cormac McCarthy novels I haven’t read. It’s wonderful wonderful, one of the most clearly positive and enriching decisions I’ve ever made.

So what did I do yesterday on my way back from the city? I played Silversword, an iOS game for the eight people on earth who are nostalgic for the Bard’s Tale games from the 80s. Blood Meridian it’s not. Phones are INSIDIOUS.

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Fresca and Smartfood! Yes!!!

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The blurb about poker caught my attention. Great read, I look forward to reading more from you, a new discovery! Thank you for your work.

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New subscriber. I would love to play poker. Count me in.

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Really loved this piece! Feeling all the feels re:social media

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Happy happy birthday Alex!! I know nothing about poker but know a whole lot about social media addiction. So I tried going offline Monday evening after reading your screed and it was HARD but now after reading this I want to try and do it again

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First off happy birthday!! I guess I wouldn't say I have been trying to use the internet less, but I am certainly becoming conscious of it, and actively choosing to just call it a day and move on to something else. Also idk if it's just a case of "man who has only read one other essay" (not true I just read it last night lol), but I felt like the issue at hand is relatively similar to the problem Mark Fisher outlines in his essay Exiting the Vampire Castle. The internet is kind of a vampire castle in and of itself if you think about it, but I digress. I think its okay if you're struggling to keep up with it because doing something big is never easy and it is okay to struggle! I think we should also try and imagine or work towards an alternative, but I have no idea what that would be as I am aware that capital subsumes all, and I think whatever this alternative would be must be cut off from the perverting reach of capital. Was it clear I was reading Mark Fisher last night? lolol. Anyways another incredibly well written essay, subscribing has never felt like a waste!! Keep it up :)

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