Farewell, Role Reboot

The time has come to say goodbye.

Almost nine years after founding Role Reboot — and 4,000 published posts later — we are shutting down. The site remains up for the time being, but we are no longer publishing new content. 

There are a lot of reasons why, but the main one is that, despite loyal and engaged contributors and readers, great content, good site traffic, and low operating costs, Role Reboot has never been financially sustainable. I built Role Reboot to be a lot of things, but a profitable media enterprise was never one of them. 

It’s been a while since I’ve been personally involved in the day-to-day operations of the site. Over the past several years I’ve been lucky enough to devote myself fully to Family Story, an organization I founded, which launched in 2015 (if you haven’t already, follow us there). We use research, analysis, and (soon!) campaigns to address issues of family privilege and to fight for family equity. It’s a different model than Role Reboot, but we’re guided by the same basic values: the inherent dignity of individuals, the importance of visibility, the belief that storytelling is the most powerful form of consciousness-raising, and a firm conviction that families come in all types, and they all deserve recognition, validation and protection. 

I think you’ll find that Family Story’s blog content will often look similar to what you’ve grown to love on Role Reboot. Because of that, we’ve decided to name it “Family Reboot,” as a nod to our roots. 

The decision to close Role Reboot’s doors feels bittersweet. I’ve wrestled with it for a long while, so despite some sadness, there is peace in finally making a choice and having closure. Plus, the time feels right. When I launched Role Reboot in early 2011, feminist media content about gender roles was scant, and typically relegated to gender studies majors or a thriving-but-niche feminist blogosphere. At the time, I felt like our content was really filling a void.

All these years later, I believe — in fact, I know — that Role Reboot played a big role in making honest storytelling about the gendered roles we inhabit, and living “off script” more accessible and far more commonplace. While others rallied for the “new normal,” Role Reboot always championed the idea of “no normal.” I think we succeeded in removing some of the stigma around decisions that deviated from the perceived norm. I’m proud of what we created together. 

But in the spirit of honesty and authenticity that we tried to model on the site, I’ll admit the journey wasn’t easy. In the early years, I was often lonely working from home and mostly alone. I was consulting to make money (and for more human interaction) but I still felt isolated. I was getting to work on something I loved, but I wasn’t particularly…happy. That’s the truth.

I’m in a much better place now, and while I’m not an especially nostalgic type, I’m able to look back on the Role Reboot journey with immense gratitude. I’m supremely thankful for all the people who supported me and cheered me on from the sidelines, and our writers who contributed so much with such honesty, vulnerability and heart. 

I’m indebted most of all to Meredith, our editor-in-chief, who has been with Role Reboot the past seven years, handled every issue that arose with grace and humor, and who single-handedly ran every aspect of Role Reboot herself the past several years. The site belongs to her as much as anyone. 

Finally, I’m grateful to my mother, who got me on this wild ride (Role Reboot actually started as a virtual book club of her invention), Morra Aarons-Mele, who took it from conception to reality, and the close family and friends who supported it through all its iterations.

I won’t sign off with any pithy parting words, or final bits of wisdom*, just a sincere and heartfelt thank you. At its core, Role Reboot is just an amalgamation of all that our writers and readers put into it, and took from it. Thank you for proving that there was an appetite for these conversations. And thank you for being such a rollicking community of honest, irreverent, compassionate, and (appropriately!) outraged feminists.

I hope you’ll join us at Family Story. I suspect you’ll find it near and dear as well.

Onwards!

Warmly,

Nicole

*Well, except for this: Whenever you hear someone unironically use the word “traditional” about anything, you should run in the opposite direction.