July 3rd and the Creators’ Dilemma


Is it just me, or did we do the Fourth of July all wrong this year? I’m no Earth scientist (I just play one on blah blah blah, you get the picture), but according to my calculations — based mainly on nostalgic memories of long weekends spent somewhere vague on the East Coast, Maine, maybe? — the Fourth was always a long weekend. It should never land on a Tuesday. That just feels wrong, sacrilegious somehow, causing many of us to fixate on the once-hypothetical “Creators’ Dilemma”: do we take Monday off and call it a very long weekend, or work that extra day and show we’re #hustling?

If the Inbox is any type of barometer, it’s clear which way the Substackers have broken: from how many I received on the 3rd and 4th, I can only posit that anyone still writing on the Internet for money must have a home life resembling Carmie’s on “The Bear.” Holidays aren’t special, they’re just when you hide out lest Bob Odenkirk attacks your brother for flinging forks and your mom Jamie Lee Curtis loses it, taking down an entire wall with her Corolla over what guest star John Mulaney might call  “too much tuna.” I left for the long weekend (sue me) with 45k emails in my inbox because I’m a monster and came back to — no joke — 63,929. 

Trying to clear myself out from under the latest pile, I have to wonder: What’s with the frantic urge to send emails over the holidays? You’d think it’d be sales spam, but by far the worst offenders this weekend were politicians: Hakeem Jeffries, Katie Porter, and Governor Gavin Newsom, with the latter writing an intriguing-but-not-in-a-good-way subject line right as the weekend began titled: “Let me explain last night.” If I had a nickel, folks. 

Maybe this also explains the cryptic “Cocaine White House” email from the still-kicking aggregator Digg, which is where we assume clothing brand Reformation’s copywriter is currently partying, With subject lines including “GO AWAY,” “WATCHES THE GODFATHER ONCE,” “OOOH AHHHH” and “FOOT STUFF” Move over, Hemingway’s baby shoes.

The Substackery was also puffing away at full tilt, more proof that creators, when left to their own devices, self-impose Dickensian factory labor standards rather than take a break. Special shoutout to Grammarly for their passive-aggressive “Did you take a break from writing last week?” literally sent on the 4th of July. 

Maybe Grammarly nudged some of our favorite newsletter writers to go off like a titular firework in a Katy Perry bop (RIP to the aught tens) despite the national holiday: “Zombie Style and Tween Girl Summer” from Casey Lewis’ After School on July 3rd, which was also when Kate Lindsay’s Embedded came in with a hot take more seared that a burnt burger on the grill, “Colleen Ballinger’s apology song was the last gasp of old YouTube.”

And then on the actual holiday, inbox overachiever Ben Dreyfuss sent out a pre-scheduled pitch for remaking “Jaws” (along with the perfect subhed: “Happy July 4th, Dad”). 

This of course crowded the space for what we’d considered an attention home run. Yes, that’s right, Passionfruit is as guilty as the rest when it comes to sending out holiday emails. Won’t we just give it a break already?


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