As I was coming up on a year of no social media (unless you count blogging as social media) I popped back on Mastodon out of curiosity. There was a fresh exodus from Twitter to Mastodon because of Musk’s performative idiocy, and I was curious to see if Mastodon was indeed a thing.
To my surprise, I like it! Mastodon + blog feels like a comfortable setup. In truth, shoehorning Twitter-like activity into a blog format always felt awkward to me. I’m not going to “live tweet” a movie on my blog, there are no silly gifs conversations here, and my blog has no good options for ephemerality other than lots of manual deletions.
Here are some things I like about Mastodon:
- There are lots of writers, readers, scientists, Godzilla stans, and Linux people.
- I can set Toots to auto-delete unless I mark them.
- There are keyword content filters for topics that don’t interest me.
- Zero algorithmic manipulation.
- Fast paced.
- Content warnings.
- Server-level moderation & cultural norms for behavior.
- Hashtags for discovery and for live events, like Eurovision.
- No ads
- Federation with other services, like PeerTube, Bookworm, and others.
- Set the privacy/visibility of each Toot. Public? Followers only? Direct Message? It’s all on the table.
- Optionally, decide who you allow to follow you, without making your whole account private.
- Unlimited links in your profile. Unlimited pinned toots.
Apparently Nazis and hate groups have their own servers and those servers are widely banned and cut off from interactions with healthy servers. Server level moderation FTW!
To the FBI: Happy Hunting!
The content warnings are surprisingly flexible. They’re used not only for extreme content, but out of respect for one’s followers. Politics is almost always behind a CW. I follow people who occasionally post nudity, and they cover it with a CW. Comments about TV and film (which may contain spoilers) often go beneath a cover as well. It’s a “tap to see” system, and folks are pretty diligent about considering what other do or do not want to be surprised by. This makes it easier to follow people with diverse interests. Maybe I enjoy you as a person, but I don’t want to read about your politics. Maybe you post fun Godzilla memes as well as porn, but I’m not into the porn. With content warnings, following someone isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.
An interesting side note is that the lack of algorithmic virality means there’s no incentive for someone to be edgy, dickish, or attention-seeking. Once you get used to this you can see a Twitter type from a mile away. They arrive, start quacking jokes into the void like a stand-up comic addressing an empty room, make a few digs, and then complain about how “quiet” Mastodon is.
Occasionally some of the Mastodon old-timers will remind folks “Relax! Be yourself. You don’t need to do that irritating shit here. It won’t impress us anyway.”
Granted, many people leave after seeing they won’t be able to feed their look-at-me cravings.
Anyway, this is a lot of words about a fun little service that takes up twenty minutes of my day. But I suppose I wanted to share that I’m enjoying the pairing of blog + Mastodon. Like peanut butter and jelly, it’s a combination that satisfies.