I Should Probably Stop Tweeting
Five seconds of thinking about something would prevent most people from writing the tweets they write. But somehow, that's too much to ask.
I recently saw the first season of Severance, and thought it was likely the best season of sci-fi television I’d ever seen. This is not necessarily high praise, because I have seen very few good sci-television series.
That said, I thought it would be worth mentioning to people, so I tweeted this:
As you can see, I’m enthusiastic about the show, but not enthusiastic about AppleTV. In general, I loathe Apple - to a first approximation I blame them for originating most of the bad trends in computer hardware of the last twenty years (I say “most” because ad-driven hardware discounting was not Apple’s idea).
My first inclination was to not tweet about the show at all. But my second inclination was, well, the show is not made by Apple. And it’s not, say, Ben Stiller’s fault that Apple is Apple. Not being programmers, it’s unfair to even expect people in Hollywood to know anything about what’s good or bad in computing.
So I went ahead and tweeted about the show, with the caveat that I wouldn’t really recommend maintaining an AppleTV subscription to watch it. I figured this was worth doing, because for all I know, there may be territories (or future syndication) where it can be watched without an AppleTV subscription, perhaps through direct purchase, or on some local alternative.
Here’s why I should not have bothered:
Zero-thought tweet parades like this one are why I stopped doing technical tweets and started posting here. Unfortunately, it looks like you basically can’t tweet anything at this point if idiocy bothers you, so maybe that’s the real takeaway here.
And to be fair, that’s a good takeaway. I have been much happier with how things have gone now that I don’t tweet about technical topics, and instead post long articles about them here. Probably I should read the writing on the wall, and limit tweeting to only links to Substack, whether they are about a nuanced technical topic or not.
But for now, the damage is already done, so let’s go over some of the things that I found so absurd about this reply:
Meow the Infinite isn’t a game, it’s a comic book. Before being self-righteous on Twitter, you could at least go and see if you have even the slightest factual grasp of what you’re talking about.
You cannot “pay for” Severance. That is precisely the thing that I was complaining about in the tweet. One of the primary problems with these business models (and why I don’t like Netflix / Hulu / Disney+ / AppleTV et al) is precisely because it is not a functioning free market where people can send their money to creators. It’s a centrally planned economy where at best you can reaffirm decisions after the fact by watching a show, but at worst most of your money goes into funding shows you don’t like and don’t watch.
SendOwl doesn’t process payments. They are a download service.
We do offer multiple payment processors precisely because we want our customers to have a choice, unlike Apple! If you want to buy a copy of Meow the Infinite, you can pay for it with Stripe, Paypal, or even once a year on Kickstarter when books are printed (which would not involve SendOwl at all). We are also currently working on our own replacement eCommerce platform so our customers will have even more control over their purchases from us without intermediaries getting in the way.
Even if we didn’t offer multiple options for payment, that is not what’s being complained about. No matter which processor you chose when buying Meow the Infinite, the payment goes directly to us, the people who made the comic. You can do with us exactly what you cannot do with Severance - pay the actual creators!
I just don’t even. Does the OP think that SendOwl is a subscription service where you get multiple comic books from multiple creators or something? Do they think that someone else is getting the money if you order Meow the Infinite? Do they genuinely think a direct purchase of a comic book from the people who make it is similar to paying a $2.8 trillion company a monthly subscription fee so you can watch one show because they refuse to sell it to you any other way?
Apple could trivially remedy this. Like us, they could offer their products directly to consumers who don’t wish to subscribe to a service. They could allow you to buy or rent Severance specifically, either on their platform or on something like VUDU or Amazon Prime Video.
But of course, they don’t. They do not offer a Blu-ray, they do not offer a rental, they do not offer a purchasable version. Why? Because they are not interested in taking a one-time payment nor are they interested in sending it to the people who made Severance. They are interested in extracting monthly rent from you whether you watch anything on their service or not.
Their business model is the exact antithesis of ours: they want you to overpay for Severance, because they believe by forcing you to subscribe they will get more money out of you long-term than if you had the option to only buy the shows you wanted.
So that’s why my original tweet was what it was: I don’t recommend subscribing to a service to watch one show. I’m never going to. I think it’s a terrible business model, and I don’t support it. But I wanted to tweet in support of the show, because if some way becomes available for you to watch it - say, it comes to another service where you can buy it - I think you should.
I don’t know why that is so hard to understand, but I guess on Twitter, it definitely is.