My online persona is pretty unintelligible.
Who is Default Friend?
I once lived in the Bay Area and would host regular meet-ups. At some point, I was “in-group,” or a “postrat,” but those labels melted away almost as inexplicably as they were applied to me. Working in and having opinions on the tech industry, I’ve vaguely been in its orbit online, but not really in the way we normally conceive of “tech Twitter.”
And Default Wisdom, the newsletter you’re reading right now, is definitely not tech-oriented, at least not in the traditional sense.
I’ve been described as a sex and relationships writer, and early on I was known as a community/friendship/identity person. But then I also write about new religious movements and the Internet. Some people simply know me as that chick who loves Mormons. Others know me as the “coming wave of sex negativity” woman—there’s never a bad time for me to remind people those are predictions, not value judgments.
The answer to “What am I trying to accomplish?” is predictably somewhere at the intersection of all of these topics, but I’ve done a poor job of packaging it all up.
Most of this is the product of my own evolution as a writer, and yes, though I’m loathe to admit it, my evolution as a Twitter personality, too.
When I started this newsletter, I never intended for it to be anything more than a Bay Area version of The Skint, a New York-based events list that specializes in the free, the cheap, and the weird. But when quarantine meant that my lifestyle had to shape-shift from aimlessly wandering in and out of free lectures and cheap concerts in San Francisco to spending 24/7 in my shoebox apartment, this newsletter underwent a massive facelift.
After the events list, Default Wisdom became an advice column. Why advice? Well, long-time subscribers might remember that it wasn’t me who wrote it, initially. Yes, that’s right: I gave away my own newsletter and then took it back again. The original story was that a close friend of mine wanted to write for an audience. So I said, “What about an advice column? Just take my subscriber list.” He got too busy and I ended up picking it back up on my own. I found I really enjoyed it.
For a few months, I answered the kind of eccentric questions that could only come from a Twitter audience. Some of my favorites include, “Is patience a virtue?” (not always), and “Should I start an OnlyFans?” (probably not, but for myriad reasons beyond the usual moralizing).
And then, at some point, probably galvanized by living with my parents for a spell, I veered into the murky waters of posting hot takes.
While I have a lot of gratitude for the audience and the friends that have come with it, my stint as hot-take-obsessee lost me more friends online and off than I’d care to admit, as well as—at least, I suspect—one job opportunity. My “two wolves,” as it were, are an inability to clearly articulate my generally pretty centrist positions, and a compulsion to post them on Twitter.
Interspersed among all of this has been a strange combination of micro-fiction and Internet trends, both historical and contemporary.
In my mind, these things aren’t disjointed, but the way in which I’ve presented them thus far has been. Even my Substack’s preview images, which bounce between stills from old cartoons, classic films, and stock photos, gesture towards a certain confusion.
To that end, I’d like to announce I’m re-branding this newsletter.
I’ll still be posting the same kinds of content—just in a way that has a sharper, more immediately obvious direction. Each week, I’ll choose a theme, and post one advice column, one piece of history or trend forecasting, and one piece of commentary that pertains to that theme.
What am I trying to accomplish with Default Wisdom? At the highest level, it is about topics like identity, community, friendships and romantic relationships. But more specifically, I want to highlight the ways our culture has changed since 2008. The world underwent a lot of changes between 2008 and 2014, and I’m a strong believer that understanding these changes are critical for creating a roadmap to understand the future.
My micro-fiction and my podcast with The Personality Girl will also still live on this site, as they both are explorations of these issues, but neither will be a part of a more formalized editorial calendar.
As far as aesthetics go, posts will no longer be numbered, but instead labeled. Advice columns will begin with “ADVICE,” and so on. Now if you’re here for one thing, but not the other, it’ll be easier to avoid the fluff. I’m also going to scrap my cartoon stills in favor of a piece of interesting art that relates to the topic at hand. I’m hoping that this will help create a more cohesive look and feel.
My content will remain mostly free, with approximately one post a week behind a paywall. If you’re feeling generous, you can subscribe here:
Thank you for bearing with me and for reading.
I don’t think I can express how much everyone’s continued support means to me. I’m excited that I finally have the bandwidth to treat this like something more substantial than a collection of notes I get to email to a bunch of people several times a week.
To a new chapter and a better Default Wisdom,