I've been banned by Elon Musk

And I am sharing 137 books you should pre-order right now. And yes, those two things are related. Also, I get very real about my work. (oof.)

I've been banned by Elon Musk
Photo by visuals on Unsplash

So I’ve been ghost banned and search banned on Twitter. 

I wondered what was going on. My reach on Twitter has been really, really low for weeks. The ghost banning might just be a general non-verified account deboost.(Gosh, I hate that I understand every word in that sentence.) But the search ban is definitely targeted in some way for some reason. I am not going to definitely blame this week’s most recent newsletter but it’s not impossible. 

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My little banning happened around the same time that truly far-right Elon Musk kicked journalists off Twitter for reporting on him. He still hasn’t reinstated Linette Lopez’s account. Lopez has been doing excellent reporting on Tesla. Today it’s been reported that Taylor Lorenz, an internet culture reporter, was suspended permanently. That’s obviously unacceptable. But it’s also obvious that the outcry over her suspension has been much more, shall we say, rigorous than the outcry over Lopez’s suspension. 

Twitter remaining useful for anything other than trolling seems increasingly unlikely. Which is more than a shame. It’s really a tragedy. Because Twitter functions as critical infrastructure for organizing, especially in places where speech is heavily censored.

Musk didn’t ruin a perfect thing. Twitter always had major problems. But it was, for a time, a place where people who were traditionally included in the public square could often be heard. That does not mean Twitter was a public square! It just means it amplified voices so they could be heard in the public square. Twitter was a microphone. 

Twitter was not a public square. It was a microphone.

Raised to be a homemaker, and absent a formal education, I am definitely someone who would not traditionally be heard outside my immediate community. My writing career exists because of Twitter. I’ve been writing in earnest since 2020 - that’s when I got childcare for the first time. It's also when I got medicated for the first time. But even with childcare and medication, I was still a person with no degree or professional network. There’s no good way to get a pitch read when you are in that position. 

So I wrote a few things for Medium. They did well on Twitter. When that happened, I got to work with amazing Medium editors. Editors like Harris SockelAmanda SakumaMegan Morrone and Michelle Legro. I wrote some big pieces! Like My Mother Risked It All on the Beanie Baby Boom. And Motherhood in America is a Multi-level Marketing Scheme. Then Medium “pivoted” away from their publications. I was bereft! Where would my writing go? 

That’s when the first version of this newsletter started in earnest. You are reading this right now because someone shared something I wrote and you clicked. Most likely on a social media platform. Maybe on Twitter. I am so glad we were brought together, you know?

Here’s one Twitter chain of events that explains just how vital the app has been to my work existing. 

Culture Study’s Anne Helen Petersen found one of my newsletter pieces on Twitter. She read it, liked it, and shared it. Then she asked me to do a Q+A with her on Culture StudySam Sanders read the Q+A and asked me to be on NPR’s It’s Been a MinuteKaitlyn Greenidge heard me on It’s Been a Minute and asked if I’d write something for Harper’s Bazaar. The Harper’s Bazaar essay is one of the best things I’ve ever gotten to write. Gosh, that’s all kind of improbable and wonderful, you know?

I got death threats on Twitter, I was harrassed, it was often anxiety inducing. And. I get to write and be read by you because of it. That’s a lovely thing. 

Of course, it’s not just the writing. It’s the way all the perspectives on Twitter changed me at what feels like a molecular level. 

Want a partial list of beliefs Twitter helped me shift? 

When I started using Twitter in 2014, I : was certain the separate spheres existed, believed gender was eternal, felt sure of American exceptionalism, had faith capitalism could save us all, and thought systemic racism ended with the Civil Rights Movement. 

If you’ve read even one piece from this newsletter, you know my thoughts on all those things have changed drastically. Sometimes my ideas were challenged directly on Twitter. But it was mostly reading other people’s conversations on the app that really challenged and provoked me. And those challenges and provocations forced me to read and seek until I knew more or better, and often both 

My children are being raised by a radically different, radically more inclusive person because of all that seeking. There are so many ways that’s true. Just one? After being raised in a religion that makes heterosexuality the keystone of salvation, I finally accepted my own bisexuality. And by the time one of my daughters told us she is queer, I knew that love is always gorgeous, and I could tell her so. I mean! The grace of that change coming just in time for her. It makes me cry with relief.

Of course, Twitter didn’t transform me. The people I was able to access on Twitter changed me. Community changed me. Deboosting means I’ve been effectively excluded from that wider community. It’s honestly very sad, the way that these little big things can be. 


I’ve long been wary of the algorithms on Twitter and other social media platforms. I moved my newsletter to Substack earlier this year because I wanted to build community in a place without context collapse and toxic virality. I hadn’t really considered that one man might buy Twitter and then use it to exact personal vengeance. That’s on me, I guess. 

It seems more important than ever to have spaces where traditionally excluded voices can be found and where community can be formed. I hope this newsletter is one little corner where that is haltingly becoming true. (If you’re a paid member of the newsletter, there’s another feature being announced on Wednesday that will be part of making that true. Hurray!)

Many writers are wondering how they are going to survive now that Twitter is breaking apart. Especially writers who have upcoming books that need promotion.  Promotion pushes pre-orders. And pre-orders help determine the success of a book. The success of a book helps determine whether another book follows.  Without a functional Twitter, getting the word out about pre-orders is going to be much, much harder. 

I haven’t written a book. (Yet.) But I am, frankly, terrified about losing Twitter. If it helped give me my just now blooming writing career, will losing Twitter make my writing prospects wilt? While I was editing this newsletter, Twitter announced another policy that will disproportionately hurt people who are not staff writers or established authors.  

I made my account private this morning. So I am sharing screenshots. Also, I don’t know how much longer my account will be accessible to me. Because I am just not going to back down on this one.

Accounts can no longer share links to their other social media sites in their bio or in tweets. What a silly mess. Between deboosting, search bans and no ability to direct my followers to other social media accounts, Twitter has become useless to me. 

Building a following on whatever platform comes next would take time. And perhaps lead to the same bad outcome. I don’t want to waste valuable minutes building influence. I want to spend all my paid hours working here on homeculture, with you. 

But writing today isn’t just about words. It’s about numbers.  

Pre-order sales, seller ranking, follower counts, retweets,  subscriber counts, open rates, click rates, shares, mentions, scroll depth and time-on-page. A large social media following helps support all those things. 

I have (had?) 15,000 followers on Twitter. Not a huge amount. But a respectable number. And a lot of those followers are very influential - editors, writers, actors, politicians, and activists. Their followings are much, much larger than mine. And so their follower count supported my numbers too. 

This is a numbers game I can’t afford not to play. But I don’t make any of the rules. And I am not going to keep playing by the rules being made up by Musk. Or the people who decide to emulate him. 

Is it possible for someone like me to get enough paid subscribers here to not feel pressured to build huge followings on platforms susceptible to the Musks of the world? I honestly don’t know. 

Follower numbers on a platform are somewhat straightforward. My numbers one homeculture are harder to parse. 

I am going to be totally transparent here. And it’s going to be humbling. But home(culture) is an okay place to feel humble. So here we go.

  • homeculture has 10,783 subscribers, with a 70% open rate. Most people I’ve talked to say any open rate over 40% is incredibly high. So I feel pretty damn lucky to read so regularly by you. Thank you.
  • My paid subscribers number in the hundreds. Within the next year, for reasons I’ll write about below, I need that number to be closer to 1500. Which is just 14% my current readers!
  • 12 minutes of childcare costs $5. But that’s not the only cost my work needs to help cover. There’s the rest of the overhead that goes into producing this newsletter. And then there’s housing, utilities, food, interventions for the neurodiverse members of my household, the cost and care of my remaining parent. You know, life! 
  • Then there’s the cost of things I am not doing yet. I’d like to provide more to my paid subscribers - like exclusive podcasts, events and resources. But producing that kind of content costs money.
  • On average, I read 10 academic articles, 6 news stories, and 1/3 of a book for each longform piece. 
  • Each longform piece I write takes thousands (and thousands) of minutes. Research plus thinking plus writing plus editing plus publishing. My newsletter output volume is lower than some. But I believe the quality is very high.
  • A monthly subscription to homeculture is $5. That’s the same price Instagram keeps suggesting I charge for a subscription to “exclusive Instagram content.” I think what I offer on homeculture is an absolute steal when viewed that way. If I am being honest.

I don’t need to become the second richest person in the world.  But in a few months, a couple life changes mean I am going to be the primary breadwinner for a while. I won’t just be supporting my house, I’ll be continuing to help financially support my mom’s home. And I am feeling worried. The numbers feel impossible.

But I know you are all feeling worried about everything you need to support too. 

I’ve written before about how when my husband was a kid, his mom dropped a gallon of milk in the grocery store parking lot. The plastic jug broke open and his mom cried. She couldn’t afford to buy more milk. The numbers were impossible. 

$5 a month for a membership to this newsletter is not nothing. The average cost of milk in the US right now is $4.41. An annual subscription is discounted. It’s $50, that’s $4.16 a month. That’s still in gallon of milk territory. I think my work has the value of a monthly gallon of milk!  But we are all feeling a bit crunched right now. I get it. So I don’t know. 

I can’t stop thinking about all the writers who are finally publishing books but are being faced with impossible numbers now too. As someone who hopes to write a book someday, I am just aching for all of them. 

Some impossible things become possible when enough people are involved. People like you and me.

So I am sharing 137 books available to pre-order right now, divided into bookshelves by subject. 

I always wanted to open a little bookshop. This might be as close as I get.

Here’s just little sneak peak! Head to the link shared above or in my newsletter header!

It took me a long time to find these. Which is a shame. It should be easy to access a list like this. So I built one. We don’t need Twitter to find and support each other. We can build new infrastructure. I’ll keep updating the shelves with pre-orders throughout the year. If you have a book suggestion, please leave it for me in the comments and I’ll add the book!

I’m also having my first sale on this newsletter. I’m calling it The Less Than The National Average Cost of a Gallon of Milk Newsletter Sale.

I’m offering a 20% discount on annual subscriptions. Which means you can become a paid member - supporting my work plus perks! - for $40 for the entire year. That comes to about $3.33 a month. Less than the average cost of a gallon of milk. (See where I got the sale name from?) Each $3.33 will buy me little over 7 minutes of childcare each month for a year. The discount will be live until January 1st. I’ll keep you updated on how the numbers look. Maybe they’ll seem…more possible somehow.