Personal newsletters are the new social media (and that’s a good thing)

I’m not on social media much these days. Not for the typical reasons, at least. Whenever I’m on Twitter, it’s usually because I’m promoting the podcast and videos. And if you see me on Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s not me. I ghost-post the blogs on Facebook and LinkedIn straight from WordPress.

But let’s consider Facebook. Facebook is for connecting with friends and family. It’s to see what everyone’s up to. But what it’s really about is to see what everyone thinks they should be up to. You know, staying on top of politics, frappuccinos, the perfect vacation, complaints about work, all that fun stuff.

Facebook is like fast food food photography. A photograph of a quarter pounder makes the burger look as sexy as Aldous Huxley, but in reality, it’s about as ugly as Arthur Schopenhauer. In other words, your life will never be as exciting as it appears on Facebook. The opposite is true: your life is not as depressing as you make it out to be on Facebook.

Anyways, newsletters. So, there’s all sorts of newsletters. We have personal newsletters, brand newsletters, corporate newsletters, my newsletter. Let’s look at the first one.

A personal newsletter is like a Facebook post worth reading. It’s generous because nobody asked the writer to share it. It’s high quality because the writer has a deadline. And it’s lacking all the stuff that makes Facebook a two-way attention vortex: no distracting sidebar, no noise, no signaling, no showing off, no hiding behind the mask of filters.

People who write personal newsletters hold themselves to a standard. Their goal? To get better at writing. Which means that they want to get better at thinking. (Facebook would be much better if its users applied this mindset.)

I learn more about someone’s current state-of-mind than I ever could from the typical Facebook post. All because of the generosity of the writer, the high bar of a deadline, and the missing cacophony of sidebars and infinite scroll.

A great personal newsletter writer considers only this question: what am I noticing?

Here’s some personal newsletters I’d recommend to anybody looking to bring some joy and curiosity to their week. All written by generous friends of mine.

Letter from A Learn-It-All — Jen Vermet’s thoughtful posts on the bravery of learning.

Thinking Out Loud — Cullin McGrath’s weekly writings on personal growth.

Quick Brown Fox — The original playground for adults. Salman Ansari connects ideas from poems, drawings, and animations.

Happy reading.

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