I’ve been hanging around on a relatively new site called Mastodon (follow me why not). It’s something of a hybrid micro-blog/message board that tends to be used a social media type of site. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed myself.
Today (I think?), there have been a couple of articles/essays/rants/whatever pretty much bagging on the place, with the explicit message of “do not go here, it sucks, fuck everyone there, and fuck you too if you use it. Stick with Twitter!” So I thought I’d write up a short thing about the positives of the place, and why you should consider checking it out.
Before I begin, though, let me state: this isn’t going to be an advertisement or a fangirl-ish defense; this isn’t me talking about how the Sega Genesis is better than the Super Nintendo (it is better, by the way). I’m simply talking about a website I like. It has its share of issues, which I’ll also get to.
When I first signed up, I thought, “oh boy, this ain’t gonna last!” The “Public Timeline” (a column where you can look at posts by pretty much everyone on the service) was populated by two groups: the “Stalin Did Nothing Wrong” crew, and the “I’m Still Mad About A Two-Year Old Offworld Article And This Is Somehow Trans People’s Fault” crew. Neither of which I want anything to do with. I figured it would be the same old, same old, with about 800 shared blocklists, sub-tweeting, screencap dunking, all that shit. I mean, there were people who quite publicly complained that I was even there, let alone posting problematic content such as Information Society videos.
You had people importing their old (in some cases literally years old) Twitter grudges and “Imagine Being X (with included screencaps)” gimmick posting, making it really uncool to hang around for a little while. At some point, most of them just started disappearing, one by one. I don’t know, or care, what the reason was. They were gone, and that’s all that mattered.
These last couple of months have been relatively peaceful. The guy who runs the place does as good a job removing the racists and the channers as one dude possibly can. A lot of the dunking contests that take place elsewhere have this sort of unofficial discouragement associated with them. Take Your Drama And Shove It, basically. It’s been fun to come online and shoot the breeze with everyone else, who tend to fall under some sort of queer/trans umbrella.
And it isn’t because Mastodon’s userbase is nicer, it’s that Mastodon’s userbase is tired.
The “secret” of its success is that we are all sick and tired of Twitter. We’re tired of the harassment. We’re tired of being constantly marketed to. We’re tired of getting the same form letter telling us that @HITLER_IS_GOOD_ACTUALLY_22 posting our home address and threatening to murder us doesn’t violate any safety guidelines. We’re tired of the 400-part Twitter essays clogging up our timelines because it’s 2017 and apparently everyone has forgotten what the fuck a blog is. We’re tired of literally anything and everything becoming a fight (see example: goddamned Krystal from Star Fox), with the battle lines already drawn and hills for you to die on, before you’ve even finished your morning coffee. We’re tired of seeing every asinine take from total morons like Brianna Wu and Eric Garland. We’re tired of milquetoast assholes smugly giving out their “Big Whoopsies” to Donald Trump because he, surprisingly, lied about something. We don’t fucking care! Mastodon is, for lack of a better term, a Safe Space for us to chill the fuck out and not be overwhelmed by Bad News and Hot Takes.
Is Mastodon a perfect community? No! Of course not. And it never will be. A perfect community does not exist. There will always be drama, sources of conflict, technical issues, all types of stuff. There’s a little concern on my end that creating your own instance (please do not ask me about technical shit; I see the word “federated” and my brain immediately asks, “hey remember when WWE was still called the WWF?”) can lead to online tribalism, and the cliques and battle lines that Twitter created can be exacerbated. Also there’s that whole thing where the servers are fucked at the moment, since what is apparently the entire population of France found the place. But for now? It works just fine.
To put a cap on this way-too-long thing, the site is fine, specifically because it is not Twitter. If you want Twitter, well hey, you already have Twitter.