A friend of mine mentioned Mastodon. Actually, he had mentioned it in the past, but I was happy where I was, which was Twitter. I had curated a great Twitter feed.
But, I am a strong believer that people/groups we allow to have influence over our thoughts and feelings, even seemingly tangentially (which is never as tangentially as they would have you believe) is an important consideration. So, I had already decided it was time to leave Twitter completely, with a clean break, when my friend mentioned Mastodon again.
I looked. I was impressed. There is a lot being written about Mastodon lately and I am not a tech expert, social groups expert, or Mastodon expert, so my little beginner list here is very inadequate in every way. But, the things I like, so far, are:
- No ads or sponsored posts.
- No data mining.
- Mastodon is kind of anarchist in nature (and I am not an anarchy expert either, so, no offense for misconstruing this). A bunch of independent random people host “servers” (in English, seems to be “instances” in other languages). You could host your own server. They make their own rules about moderating, post character lengths, etc. That is your “home” group. But, you can simultaneously have a “federated” view and see posts or “toots” from other servers/instances. Don’t like your current “home”? Migrate to a new one. They have made it very simple to do.
- As an outgrowth of the above, experienced users tend to use content notices much more liberally and encourage us new users to do so too. And, they do it better than Twitter. You put the subject and then there is a button to click for “Show more.” So simple and elegant.
- There is an edit function.
- It seems to be a more international platform, likely because it was started, I think, in Germany. You can choose servers based on primary language. My first “starter” server was in English. My current server is German, but it said English posts were fine, there are a lot of English posts, and it gives me a chance to practice perusing in German and if I want to make sure I am getting it, I just ask for help from Google Translate (which is far from perfect, but it is fun to use as an additional help). In other words, I like the international character in general and it is specifically allowing me regular fun exposure to one of my target languages without being burdensome or frustrating. It is serendipitously? intentionally? ideal, actually. The federated feed has quite a few languages making appearances.
- Following hashtags is a designed-in function. You could do that on Twitter, but it was clearly an afterthought.
Sorry for the resolution – I just don’t currently have the skills to fix that. Shows the four column advance web interface (selected in “Preferences”) showing 1. Where I can post or search, 2. My “home” or “server/instance” feed, 3. Notices, and 4. Federated feed* or with arrow to example of a content notice.
So, my very short experience has been this: There has been a huge flood of new accounts. There were a few servers that were open and accepting new accounts. Other accounts had temporarily put holds on new accounts because of the flood (and these are just regular individuals hosting the servers, for fun, I guess). Most other servers, you “apply” to join (sort of like joining a Facebook group or something). I joined one of these open servers that were accepting the flood of new users and got my feet wet.
There was nothing wrong with my server. It was run very well, actually. But, then I wanted to see what it was to join a specific community. I found this list. (I have no idea if it is exhaustive. I doubt it.) And, actually, this database looks like it has a pretty good search function.
And then came the question: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want my downtime to naturally focus on?
There was a geographic option that fit me, which would have great advantages. But, I have never seen myself as mainly an experience of where I live. More importantly, I did not want even subtle limitations of my feed based on my current location. So, I looked at other options and actually did some significant reflection. My job? I love my job. It is meeting my needs beautifully at the moment. Great people. Great mission. But, I am not my job and, as perfect as it is, it is not my passion. My social concerns/activism? Honestly, I need a break from that sometimes because it is so emotionally taxing. I will be able to find it whenever I want through hashtags, etc, but I don’t want to be immersed in it when I need to relax. I do need time to relax. We all do. There are topics I am interested in that did not seem to have a server, yet. I ended up on one of my lifelong passions. Emergency medical care has never left me. It has been a part of me my entire life. It brings me joy. So, even though it is a small server, I ended up on medic.cafe. Plus, it has a cute mastodon medic. 🙂 I am
One thing I have noticed is that my little niche interests, of which I had a great group and lots of activity on Twitter, have not really made it over to Mastodon, yet. I have high hopes.
So, check things out on Mastodon if you are wanting to make a social media move. Give me a follow so I can see you are there – I am rebuilding my feeds from scratch! Especially if you are interested in:
- emergency medical services
- building mutual aid systems and strong communities (found some on Mastodon)
- religion (all walks, traditions, faiths, types)
- native plants/permaculture
- backpacking/hiking/camping/trail running (found some on Mastodon)
One last quick note on consciously and intentionally choosing our identity and how social media influences our outlook on life: I am so grateful to have the freedom to just drop Twitter and pick up Mastodon on my own terms. In my previous job, it was important for me to maintain various social media accounts for our organization. We were very active in social justice and nonviolence. I loved our mission and loved working there. I also love being able to put that on the back burner at will when needed. If I were to give advice to any young person it would be to not be a social media manager, either as a part of or as an entire role, professionally.
*(The federated feed is not to be confused with the Fediverse, which I did, originally. Here is an explainer of the Fediverse. It’s in German, but you should be able to click to have it appear in English.)
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Now, for a quick update on my life: Last weekend, I planted 10 inkberry bushes, three elderberries, and two persimmon trees. And, I ended up with poison ivy reaction (despite my carefulness) so bad that I am now on a long taper of prednisone. I think I am also developing secondary cellulitis on my arm. I will mark the perimeter with a Sharpie at work tomorrow. My plan is to do no more fall planting and just focus on keeping these new plants and the two previously planted paw paws alive and, hopefully, root thriving. Given that I will need to water them regularly and thus brave any lurking poison ivy, this will be enough in itself.
My daughter just sent me this photo from where she and 1-year-old A are nannying. A keeps calling this toy, “Grandma.” I love it.