I became a leader of the Etsy Strike movement on Monday, February 28 of 2022. At that point, we had about 140 people in a subreddit. It wasn’t much, but I was convinced we could use it to launch the Etsy Strike movement.
I was wrong.
You see, 140 people in a subreddit translates to about 5 randomly selected people seeing each post, thanks to how social media algorithms work.
No problem. We would adjust. We would work around the algorithm. I would let everyone know I would be sharing important updates at specific times. People would log on to check the subreddit at or soon after those specific times. It would cause the algorithm to see our posts as more important/more engaging, and show them to more people.
I was wrong.
People either didn’t understand what I was asking them to do, or we didn’t have enough people engaged enough to do what I asked. My posts continued to be seen by 5 randomly selected people.
No problem. We would adjust. Reddit wouldn’t work for organizing this movement after all. We needed a system in which we weren’t beholden to an algorithm. Discord would be the answer. I didn’t fully understand Discord. I had only been a user (and an occasional one at that) but I would figure out how to mod a server. I posted a call for help on Reddit — a Google form for people to fill out so I could add them to our Discord server, and once I figured out how, add “ranks” to them based on the skills they possessed that would allow me to ping people that could help with specific tasks. Discord would be the key to getting the ball rolling on this movement.
I was wrong.
The help form I had posted proceeded to get one (or less) signups each day. I sent each person the Discord server link, and waited for them to join. From March 1 until March 8, our Discord server contained exactly 4 people — myself, a non-Etsy-seller real-life friend of mine who had offered to help me figure out how to mod Discord, the original leader of r/EtsyStrike who had stepped back for health reasons, and one other person. This person helped a bit, by occasionally offering suggestions and comments when not “too busy”, and I was grateful for their presence. But Discord being Discord, I also could see exactly which video game they were playing at all times.
I’m not really a gamer myself. My kids are utterly obsessed with video games, however. Our favorite family-fun-time activity is a Minecraft realm that we play together. We call it “Minetopia.”
My youngest child is named JJ. He’s the JJ-est JJ of all the JJ’s. If you met him, you would understand his nickname right away. His primary purpose in life is to loudly declare his love and devotion for the whole entire world, all the people in it, all the animals in it, and especially all the video games in it. To say that he’s a happy-go-lucky child is an understatement.
He woke up sobbing one morning. It took a while to tease out of him what was wrong. He had had a nightmare. He was playing Minetopia and tried to use a game command to teleport to me, but when he teleported to me, I was gone.
“Mommy, will you ever play Minetopia with me again?”
I held my nine year old son, and I cried with him, and I tried to explain to him why this was so important.
“JJ,” I said, “You know how we want to own a house so badly? You know how we’ve been trying to save money for years and years, but the houses keep getting more and more expensive, and it’s so hard for us, and we don’t have enough money?”
“That happens because the world is controlled by huge corporations. And those huge corporations are controlled by people who have all the money in the world, but they don’t want to share. They would rather keep all that money for themselves, rather than letting people like Mommy and Daddy earn enough to be able to afford things like houses. It’s this horrible situation that’s so much bigger than Minetopia, so much bigger than you and me.
“I want to play Minetopia with you. I would so much rather be doing that than trying to run the Etsy strike! But Etsy is the corporation Mommy is dependent on — the money we’ve been using to save for that house we all want so much.
“I know it’s really hard to understand, and I’m so sorry Mommy isn’t there for you right now. I have to do this. In a way, I’m doing it for you. I want to spend time with you more than anything, but I also want to be the type of person you’ll look up to. It’s so rare for ordinary people like you and me to have a chance to fight back against the forces that control our lives.
“I want to teach you to fight back. Any chance you get. Do you understand?”
From that moment on, I had a nine-year-old cheerleader in my youngest child. He told his friends at school about the Etsy Strike, and he kept coming up with video-game-related ideas that he was convinced would help us promote it. It was adorable.
I shared that conversation with JJ because those things I told him were the exact reason I didn’t quit in the early days, when the whole thing seemed utterly hopeless.
I was in the right place at the right time, and I had the skills we needed to get the ball rolling on the movement. I knew I was facing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try to forge some change in the world.
If I could only figure out how to attract a few more people to help.