Quitting your job is never easy. It is harder when it’s a public spectacle. My employer offered us, me and Anna, a lot of severance in January when it became apparent we weren’t interested in staying and working for that company any longer than the two-ish weeks we’d already been there. It didn’t occur to us in that moment that we should take the money, which could have paid off all of my student loans and my credit card debt and my rent for the rest of my lease and still leave me enough money to have a very healthy “savings account” for the first time in my life. But that money, like most large amounts of money being handed to you with the veneer of benevolence, comes conditionally. So we didn’t take the money. And we quit our jobs. And because we didn’t take the money, we were able to say very clearly why we quit our jobs.
The day you quit your media job publicly isn’t the hardest day of your life. It’s a hard thing to do when you are two people and you are quitting in defiance of your boss, a person who can intimidate you with his money and resources, but it isn’t the hardest day.
The hardest days come afterward. They come when people stop tweeting kind and well-intentioned platitudes urging someone (who, exactly?) to hire you, and everyone naturally moves on, because there are always other, worse actual atrocities happening all the time, inside and outside of our industry. They come when it dawns on you that your rent is due in four days, and you’re about to overdraft your checking account, and your landlord only takes American dollars and won’t accept a check paid with those principles everyone applauded you for. The hardest days are months later, when you start wondering if you could move back to Pennsylvania to live with your mom, when you wonder if you’ve actually rendered yourself unhireable at age 26, when you cannot get out of bed for three days in a row, or when your panic attacks worsen and become more frequent and they keep you up, trembling, for hours every night, and you can’t tell anyone because you were supposed to be a strong person, and how humiliating would it be to admit, even to yourself, that maybe you’re traumatized, all because you quit a job?
I say all of this because as much as I can, I know how difficult it likely was for much of the staff of Deadspin to decide to resign en masse from their jobs this week as a vampiric private equity firm was smothering a beloved website most people I know read regularly. I also understand how difficult it might be for them moving forward. When you don’t intend to quit your job with nothing lined up, and then suddenly, you cut yourself free, it is disorienting. It’s not the quitting that’s the hard part (though, yes, the quitting is hard), it’s everything that comes after.
What they did feels final and seismic, even in the midst of a several-year span of upheaval, of websites I love dying. “weird how digital media is basically over?” a friend messaged me yesterday after it happened. It’s not, exactly, but I know what he meant. The era of good blogs is over. Gawker Media was the last place that felt like a space where someone could just start something new online. That spirit doesn’t feel like it exists anywhere else now, including here (sorry, Substack). It would serve us well to not forget the integrity required to do what the Deadspin staff did yesterday, and to remember the bravery they showed as they move forward and hopefully quickly resettle themselves into new jobs where they can do the kind of always fearless, often funny writing they excel at. They deserve a new website. They deserve better than this industry can give them.