Let’s stop sucking at this guys.

When I started Cut.com back in October of 2014, I used to respond to every comment. It didn’t matter if it was a question, a criticism, a sincere reflection on the videos we created, or just someone yelling “First!” into the void.

I don’t know why, it just seemed like the thing to do. Not in a “best practice” kind of way. It wasn’t a marketing exercise. It wasn’t a mechanic for gaming an algorithm. It was good table manners. Like chewing with your mouth closed, it would’ve been rude not to.

In one…

My mother is an immigrant from the Philippines. Most of my family immigrated here when I was kid. They were escaping martial law, government corruption, state sponsored violence, and a brutal, capricious dictator. I remember when my grandfather was dying and he asked me to read from “The Conjugal Dictatorship,” a book a friend of his had written.

“You know,” he said, “they had him killed for what he wrote. They threw him out of a plane without a parachute.”

In one of his many jobs my grandfather was a contributing editor and member of the National Press Club. …

Illustrations by Mike Force

This isn’t the typical CEO eulogy.

How do you explain to someone that you no longer want to be the CEO of the company you founded? How do you even admit it to yourself? For the last couple of months I’ve been doing a lot of practicing:

Eating lunch with my board, I blurted out, “I don’t want to be CEO.” They nodded their heads gravely as they chewed their shawarma.

“I’m dying.” I told my co-founders over dinner. They paused for a punchline. “And next week I’m no longer going to be the CEO at Cut.” They looked concerned. “I’m not actually dying. I just…

On Friday it’s my birthday. I’m turning 40. But I’m not much for parties or gatherings. Most birthdays slip by me unrecognized save for the inevitable series of well wishes plotted by Facebook’s friend-nagging-algorithm.

Last year, I had jury duty on my birthday. What a pisser, I thought. This year, I’m sick and sequestered (almost two weeks) in my home with my wife and kids. I don’t know if I have the coronavirus because there aren’t enough tests for people in my condition — sick, but still capable of writing a personal essay. Who knows where I’ll be next year…

I went to buy a donut a few days ago. I asked the cashier how they were doing, you know, with the apocalypse and everything. It was a nothing question, small talk. Like asking an Uber driver what it’s like driving for Uber. In Seattle, talking about COVID-19 is the equivalent of asking about the weather. That is to say, you know the answer.

The cashier smiled, grabbing a white paper bag for my donut. She wore thick black rimmed glasses, her hair in a pony tail, a black long sleeve shirt under a distressed t-shirt for a band I…

Michael Gaston

President Stage TEN Studios | Founder Cut.com | tw: @beyoncefan206 | ig: @antisocialtheory |

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