It’s been two and a half months since I deleted the blog, so I owe all of you an update on recent events.
I haven’t heard anything from the New York Times one way or the other. Since nothing has been published, I’d assume they dropped the article, except that they approached an acquaintance for another interview last month. Overall I’m confused.
But they definitely haven’t given me any explicit reassurance that they won’t reveal my private information. And now that I’ve publicly admitted privacy is important to me – something I tried to avoid coming on too strong about before, for exactly this reason – some people have taken it upon themselves to post my real name all over Twitter in order to harass me. I probably inadvertently Streisand-Effect-ed myself with all this; I still think it was the right thing to do.
At this point I think maintaining anonymity is a losing battle. So I am gradually reworking my life to be compatible with the sort of publicity that circumstances seem to be forcing on me. I had a talk with my employer and we came to a mutual agreement that I would gradually transition away from working there. At some point, I may start my own private practice, where I’m my own boss and where I can focus on medication management – and not the kinds of psychotherapy that I’m most worried are ethically incompatible with being a public figure. I’m trying to do all of this maximally slowly and carefully and in a way that won’t cause undue burden to any of my patients, and it’s taking a long time to figure out.
I’m also talking to Substack about moving to their blogging platform. While part of me wants to jump right back into blogging here and pretend nothing ever happened, the Substack option has grown on me. I think I’d feel safer as part of a big group that specifically promises to defend their bloggers when needed. And also, I’d feel safer with a lot of diverse income streams, and Substack has made me an extremely generous offer. Many people gave me good advice about how I could monetize my blog without Substack – I took these suggestions very seriously, and without violating a confidentiality agreement all I can answer is that Substack’s offer was extremely generous.
When I originally asked readers about this possibility, they raised a lot of valid concerns: some of them were confused by Substack’s commenting system, others annoyed by its pop-up reminders to subscribe, others were concerned about being stuck outside a paywall. I’ve talked to Substack about this, and they’ve made some really impressive promises to address these things – they’re going to code a maximally-SSC-like commenting experience, they’re going to let me opt out of the subscription reminders, I won’t have to “paywall” anything besides some Hidden Open Threads. This isn’t the time for me to go over the dozens of examples of concerns I had that Substack went above and beyond to address, but assume I had most of the same ones you did and put a lot of work into addressing them.
(and if you’re worried about the Hidden Open Threads, check out Data Secrets Lox, a forum that has done a great job keeping the SSC Open Thread tradition going over the past few months.)
So that’s where I am right now – trying to wind things down at my day job, very preliminarily planning a private practice, and negotiating writing details with Substack. I’m also looking into some other things to protect my physical safety. When all of that is done, I’ll start blogging again. Right now I’m expecting that to be some time between October and January – and obviously when it happens I’ll let you know. I would appreciate if people continued to respect my preferences about anonymity until then. After that I’ll stop caring as much – though I’ll still go by “Scott Alexander” to keep the brand the same, and I’ll still do what I can to avoid publicity.
I might have hinted at this already, but I should say it explicitly – I’m really grateful for all the support I got throughout this whole incident. You people are all great. I’ll say so at more length later, and talk more about some specific examples, but for now just accept on faith that you’re all great.
I still plan to do the book review contest! I’ll do it sometime after I start the new blog! Those of you who sent me reviews didn’t waste your time! It’s going to happen! Pestilence may afflict every corner of the world, the skies may turn red as blood and the sun go dark at noon, the earth may shake and plagues of locusts cover the land, but never doubt that there will be a book review contest someday, in the golden future, when all of this is over.
As all the kids are saying these days, “thank you for your continuing support during these difficult times”.