The rapidly degenerating state of Twitter and my anxiety about it made me finally sign up to Mastodon today.
I wrote a bit about my worries about the bird site in my post Day Six a Day Late – but things have escalated since then, and there has been more of a flight to alternative means of being social on the internet. I’m very reluctant to leave.
I know that Twitter can be, and has been, toxic sometimes. The algorithm means I’ve seen less of what I wanted to see and people haven’t been engaging as much.
It isn’t that conducive to meaningful or nuanced in-depth conversations, but I have also read some very thought-provoking and interesting things there in my time. I’ve bookmarked reams of interesting threads. I’ve made lists that make sense to me and make it easier to see what’s actually going on in the different communities I’ve been a part of.
And yet. There is a lot to be said about starting afresh. I’m wary of placing too much pressure on something that I haven’t even started using properly.
I joined a newish server specifically for neurodivergent people. At the moment, that seemed like a safe place to start and I was happy with the rules. You can follow people from other servers (instances) if you have their handle and the name of the server. It makes it easier that a lot of people I follow on Twitter have put their Mastodon and other social links out there recently.
It does feel strange. I haven’t written my introductory post yet, and I think it’s because it feels a bit more like popping into a village pub and introducing yourself to strangers rather than shouting into a public square and not being certain if people are hearing (or even seeing) you.
It’s made me feel a bit shy and like I’m not sure what to say. I’m sure there will come a point when I get used to it.
The difference is definitely that it’s a more ‘siloed’ experience. I could have sought out a server with any other of my interests or identity markers, but I intuitively feel I need to learn more from the autistic and ADHD community, and it feels a little safer somewhere being neurodivergent will be accepted.
That’s not to say I’m being naive and expecting everything to be fine, but it seems like a good beginning. Perhaps I could have joined a writing server but a lot of the people on this one are also writers and creatives.
There is also something very touching about starting from scratch and having a small mutual following build up. Maybe because on Twitter it can be hard to actually have an equal standing when you follow accounts that have huge followings, and you already know they’re not going to be able to have conversations with you anyway.
That is the advantage of joining instances because though they might seem ‘siloed’ they also work as a home base, and that could be pretty powerful in terms of social connection and community.
Having said that, moving away from Twitter means that my social media presence feels more fragmented than ever. I generally follow a different set of people in different places but on Twitter there was more overlap. Especially with the UK and US deaf communities. Also with people whose blogs I followed many years ago and don’t really follow elsewhere.
There is a small spark of hope that some kind of last minute save could happen but the way things are going, probably not. So there is definitely a slight grieving process happening though I am doing everything I can to find ways to keep in touch with people.
The good news is that I’m finding a lot of interesting and lovely people on my server and also from the different feeds that show different things (there are three – home feed, local feed, and federated feed which shows people your community follow too, which is interesting!). Despite the learning curve, which I’m actually not finding as steep as you might think, I’m actually starting to enjoy it.
So here’s to extinct elephants, and to the potential demise of somewhere that has shaped social media, discourse, and how we relate to each other since 2006. I hope we’re proven wrong but if not, it’s been interesting.
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