32 Comments

Thank you very much for this. I can see why Substack is doing Notes - they’re venture backed, and so the only success is bazillions of users and paid subscriptions.

I’ve tried Notes and think it’s better than Twitter – but that’s not saying much.

I agree with you that Notes will dilute the quality of writing on Substack. It’ll distract writers and readers. Sure, some writers will gain more followers – but as you mention, they’ll be shallow followers. Already people are asking to follow instead of subscribe.

And my readers are saying they’re getting emails with my Notes (which I’ll be stopping). They didn’t ask for these emails. I didn’t ask for these emails, either.

Notes could be good for some people. But I wish that Substack treated Notes like they have treated every other feature before – by giving us control. Not sure why they’ve shifted course here.

Expand full comment

Thanks for including me in your post - much appreciated. I feel that one of the dangers here is "attention fatigue" - the need to be aware of everything that's going on and having to have an opinion or respond to all of it. It's exhausting! The one finite resource we have is time - we can never get more hours in the day. Because of that, everyone is shouting louder and louder trying to get your mindshare.

Just like I've limited my media diet, I've had to increase my filters elsewhere as well. I don't have any specific feeling about notes right now other than "It looks interesting, I'll try it out at some point." Who knows, it might be a great way to read interesting throughts from other writers, or share my own quick thoughts - but I'm happy to wait and see how it all matures.

Expand full comment
Apr 19, 2023Liked by Carmella Guiol

Thank you for the wisdom. I know you have a point because my brain flashed repeatedly while reading your post that I should restack from your writing here on Notes. I’m gonna be taking this to heart.

Expand full comment
author

That's funny! the impulse to share is so so strong, and a normal one, i think! being mostly off social media, i still have the impulse to share articles and things that I come across, but i try to share them with a specific person who might appreciate it, rather than just posting it to the void.

Expand full comment

Interesting idea.

Nary a day goes by when I don't think of this post. It influenced my decision last week to take time of Facebook, even though (or especially?) I'm only there for important things like promoting my awesome Substack newsletter. Also considering how to use Substack's new Notes without it using me, and opening to the possibility of letting it go. Thanks so much!

Expand full comment

Really appreciate how you've articulated your feelings here. As someone who has been lurking on Substack for a while but has only just started writing, I'm encouraged to see this way of thinking. I came here because it seems like a supportive home for long form content. As a Twitter user (forgive me!) I'm open to Notes BUT I 💯 agree about the quality thing and the scroll, scroll, scroll.

Expand full comment
author

no need to apologize for tweeting! i totally get the appeal, and i would use it more if i could handle what it does to my mental health! but i just don't like the things it does to my brain...

Expand full comment
Apr 19, 2023Liked by Carmella Guiol

Amen to that. I keep trying to refine how I spend time online because the sheer noise and quantity of information is brain-melting. I'm lurking on substances a consumer wondering whether to join the ranks of its content producers... but I dislike and disagree with pivots that change the nature of the platform - and notes sounds like it may qualify. All that to say that yes is exhausting to keep up, but knowing others agree makes it a tad easier to manage. So thank you for sharing!

Expand full comment
author

brain-melting. that is a very good way to describe it! your welcome and thank you for reading!

Expand full comment

Same. I was actually quite excited when I heard about it because I'm struggling to write long form in burnout, but have read some great things along similar topics to what I wrote about and would've loved to add my thoughts via Notes... But once it launched and went bat-shit that first day (someone I subscribe to posted (is that even the right term?!) about 5 notes in a couple of hours, there were notifications flying all over the place and my brain felt like it would implode! I never got into Twitter but hoped Notes would be more like ongoing recommendations of good articles with some commentary, but there has been so much dross I've pretty much checked out of it. 😕

Expand full comment
author

i'm sorry it can't be the solution to your burnout. i hope you can overcome it soon!

Expand full comment

Me too- spending way too much time in overwhelm these days...Am trying to dip my toe into notes in a manageable way, but I think it might still be a bit too soon/ something that's not for me!

Expand full comment
author

I feel you about the overwhelm. This week I set the goal of writing 3 pomodoros of 20 min each. keeping the bar set really low!

Expand full comment

Something is better than nothing!

Expand full comment

Thanks for posting this. I was dismayed to see all the new notifications I had when this launched. I agree with the suggestion you embedded that if this has to happen, maybe a daily limit could be a way to moderate it, but frankly, I didn't join Substack for short form content and it's soured me on the platform, overall.

Expand full comment
author

I agree!

Expand full comment

I haven't used Chat and have been totally ignoring Notes for all the same maxed-out-brain reasons. No can do.

Also:

a) as someone who lives on a literal island, I can appreciate the idea of starting a chat thread with the people who are already reading my words to feel less like one person talking to myself.

b) I have a lot of writer friends who have been on Twitter for years and mostly loved it. Unlike folks in politics or celebrity-world, they say for a long time it felt mostly positive, like a true community. I'm down to give everyone who wants a break from Elon Musk a chance to find that somewhere else.

Expand full comment
Apr 20, 2023Liked by Carmella Guiol

I agree. I’m done with notes.

Expand full comment

I'm with you Carmella. Was never a fan of Facebook, not a Twitterer; tried some social platforms and got tired of writing, reposting, sharing into the nethersphere.

Had started dabbling here on Sunstack, just curious and cautious. But notes just dropped, and I am too given to impulse. A few raised these points which I echo. I feel like thoughtfulness and reflection just got kicked to the curb.

Thank you for your words and thoughts.

Expand full comment

I agree with all of this so much! I will say that when Notes launched, my first thought was, "maybe I'll just quit the internet entirely." But I'm seeing it as an opportunity to really truly take more time away from [waves arms broadly] all of this.

Expand full comment
author

Same! My first reaction was BYE SUBSTACK! But I'm glad you're using the opportunity to take time away from this crazy digital world..

Expand full comment

Yeah. I'm realizing my time is better spent just lying on the floor staring at my own hand than doing anything on the internet.

Expand full comment
author

it is! like, we worry about everything we'd miss by not being online. but it's like, what about everything we'll gain!??!?

Expand full comment

The quote you shared, "the older I get, the more I realize that FOMO is a myth - instead, find what excites, inspires, or comforts you, and stick to that" resonated with me sooooooooo much.

Expand full comment

The week I first quit social media I read like nine books.

Expand full comment
author

read more, scroll less - thats my motto

Expand full comment

"maybe I'll just quit the internet entirely." HAHA me at least once a day, and maybe one day...

Expand full comment

"But how necessary is it? Does it add to or detract from my life?"

This is exactly what I've begun to ask myself before writing or sharing anything--even in real life. Asking if it's something worth sharing or if I just want to share it because of the human tendency to feel like we *have to* tell someone? I realized the other day that I should ask first before showing anyone a video or photo on my phone. I should go into a room and see if the person or people there are available and attentive to talk instead of shouting from around the corner. And I should carefully consider whether the words I'm writing will truly add to the collective discussion around a topic in a way that will improve or challenge others.

It's a hard line to walk, but I agree that, if content or media only serves to feed the habit of endless scrolling, its best to spare our friends, family, and audiences their sanity and not share it.

Expand full comment
author

Something I've been thinking about lately is the burden we put on people when we do share something with them, like a video. I, for one, don't think about what I'm asking of the other person -- their attention, their time, perhaps their reaction or response. We should take all of that into consideration before we share with abandon, even the cutest kitty video!

Expand full comment

This is so true. Every time we share something, we're asking for the other person's (or our audience's) attention. I need to start putting myself in their shoes and considering whether I'd want someone to ask for my attention at a particular point in time, or if it would be better to wait...or forbear.

It's such a mindset shift in a culture obsessed with constant self-expression and oversharing.

Expand full comment

You've perfectly echoed all of the thoughts and feelings I've had about Notes since joining Substack. I've found myself scrolling through my Notes Feed in a kind of stupefied horror and thinking, "How did I get tricked into joining crappy social media again?" It would be different if authors shared links to interesting articles or writing that relates to the content of their newsletter, but that's not what I'm seeing here. I know this article is over a year old, so I'm curious -- how do you feel about this feature now? Has it gotten better since its inception or is it more or less the same?

Expand full comment

"I don’t want to participate in another venue for self-aggrandization, self-promotion, and squawking for attention." Thank you, thank you, thank you. We still have choice, and I haven't downloaded the app, used neither Chat nor Notes, and I love what you said at the end- "if a platform that I am using no longer serves me or is causing me undue stress, then it’s time to move on. I won’t be afraid to cut Substack loose."

Expand full comment