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Hi there, and welcome back to the Monthly Missive. You can save anything in here to read later in Pocket, and email me by replying to this email. You can also see what I'm listening to here, and see what books I am reading here.

Just do it yourself

Eighteen months ago, the Australian cricket team was embroiled in a scandal after the captain, deputy captain and another player were caught "ball tampering" - ie, altering the cricket ball being used in the match with the aim of making it easier for their own side to win. All three were banned from playing internationally for a year, the coach was fired and there was a lot of commercial fallout. When the major sports media decided not to bid for the rights to broadcast the first cricket test match the Aussie team played after the scandal, two enthusiastic cricket fans decided to buy the rights (popping it on credit cards) and do it themselves - all the commentating, broadcasting and finding sponsors. It's a cracker of a story. 

Last week I saw the documentary 2040, which aims to envision life in 2040 if we actually started using renewable and sustainable energy practices and worked on reducing the amount of carbon in the air. It was nice to see a vision of the future that isn't a dystopian hellscape - but can we pull it off? This interview with a family doing regenerative farming was interesting and explains just what farmers are up against financially and also in terms of food security  and nutrition. Having grown up in the country I did chuckle at the idea that someone would buy a farm to spend more time with their family. All the farmers I know work incredibly long hours! 

I was equal parts enthralled and appalled by this six episode arc on the podcast Startup about "church planting". Church planting is what happens when you mix evangelical Christian missionary zeal with the process of capitalism, with the big megachurches funding this process like a venture capital firm. If a church can't start turning a profit within three years, the church plant is deemed a failure - Jesus be damned. Organized religion has been hoarding wealth forever, but this method of getting new people to join your religion is a bit gross. 

Offline reading

I've been reading books about Norwegian black metal, Christianity and the rise of white supremacy within that subculture, the phenomenon of "bullshit jobs", how we're affected socially by the people we hang around and the links between trauma and addiction

What I've been doing

It's been a while between updates, so take a seat. 

In June I spent some time in Brisbane catching up with family and doing some Spokesmodel stuff with my bandmate Ben. Our new single Means To An End is out now and you can listen to it on the streaming service of your choice. We also shot a video for it, documenting our first time playing live together since we started the project a couple of years ago. Watch it here

Day job
I've been in charge of the development and production of work's new podcast series, Upfront About Breast Cancer. We wanted to make a podcast covering all the things you need to deal with as part of breast cancer treatment but discussing them in a conversational and informative way. No lecturing from medical professionals, no pink inspo porn - just useful chats between our host Kellie Curtain, a medical expert and a person who has lived experience with breast cancer. 

We launched it at the end of May and my colleagues and I are thrilled with the response we've had from our members with very little external promotion. It's bounced in and out of the Top 10 Science & Medicine podcasts on the Apple Podcasts charts and most importantly, we've had people tell us they've found it really easy to listen to and they've binged it while recovering from surgery and enduring chemo infusions.

This is the first time I've been involved in the end-to-end process of a podcast - from idea to iPhone, if you will - and I reckon that people really don't get just how much work goes into a 30 minute episode that you can get for free. My experience and skills with audio editing, radio show production and journalism that I've built up over the past 12 years made it easier for me to do this, but the process of briefing, recording, editing, mastering, creating and formatting RSS feeds and submitting a podcast show into Apple Podcasts and other apps is a huge fuck around and requires a lot of concentration. And that is just the technical back end - in order to make the end product seem effortless, I rely heavily on the expertise and connections of my colleagues and the skills and manner of our host. 

You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts or whatever app you happen to use. My favorite episodes are the one on how to tell your kids you have cancer and how to navigate money and the healthcare system. 


I quit Twitter after 12 years

I know many of you found me and this newsletter via Twitter and might have noticed me missing when I nuked my account a week or so ago. So, here's a bit of an essay on why I called it quits and why it is like another unhealthy habit I binned. 

I joined Twitter in 2008. Back then, there were so few users that all of us on the site in Brisbane would meet up at the pub once a month to catch up. Being an early adopter helped me get a foot in the the door and kick off my career in the media as a journalist and producer. In many ways the platform has replaced the local pub as a place for people who work for the media and in politics to socialise, and so while I was still working in the media I stayed on the site, having fun scrapping and maintaining my profile. 

In late 2016 I quit my media job and moved to a comms role at a not-for-profit. There were a few reasons behind this move, but having to monitor and moderate work's social media accounts and seeing the bile and fury of our commenters and commentators burned me out. Then, of course, Trump had just been elected, and the media and Twitter played a huge part in his popularity and win. 

Around the same time this was happening, I'd begun to realise I needed to quit drinking alcohol. There are quite a few parallels between my use of alcohol and my use of Twitter. Both started out as something that was genuinely enjoyable and allowed me to connect with people. I used both to numb anxiety, simulate emotional intimacy with strangers and acquaintances and give me an internal push to maintain a public persona as a cool, smart and fun person when that is not how I really felt about myself. Both drinking and using Twitter helped my career, and both drinking and using Twitter made it easy to tap into the most toxic and badly behaved parts  of my personality for entertainment. 

Quitting drinking was easy, really. I called time two years ago after a night where the prosecco was shit, my behaviour was bad and the hangover was worse than both those things put together. Quitting Twitter was harder. I thought I could engage moderately, but after a week where I spent hours arguing with people I don't know or respect and Derryn Hinch called me a wanker for raving about how good my local cake shop is, I realized I was breaking my own rule of engaging with criticism from people who I wouldn't go to for advice.

Not drinking alcohol has made my life more joyful and many parts of it much easier, but it has ended my "career" and social life in Melbourne's music scene, as I simply can't handle late nights in claustrophobic dive bars anymore. Being on Twitter in 2019 feels the same for me as being in a dive bar sober does - terrified and combative because of all the loud, unpredictable and argumentative drunks. Nazis, reply guys, bad-faith arguments - it's only a matter of time before I punch on or join someone else's pile-on. Bars and Twitter were fun when I was younger, but now the lights are on and I can see all the filth. I need to stay away if I want to behave in a way that is in accordance with my values.

I'm still very online. I still have Instagram and unfortunately have Facebook, albeit with a fake name and a subdued profile. I'll be more active on Medium, more active with Spokesmodel, and more regular with the Missive. Thanks for sticking around. 

Copyright © 2019 Sophie Benjamin, All rights reserved.

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