I am so conditioned to staying in my comfort zone… sometimes I drag my cyber feet about learning new tools and platforms. However, when I finally commit, I end up having a GREAT TIME!

See, for example, this post from when I was learning civiCRM!

If you have a heartbeat and spend some time on the internet, you’ve probably seen rants about the new leadership at Twitter, the bad treatment of employees, concern about security, and general chaos (the sky is falling, etc).

Despite my work on Ethical Tech (which really is super duper important to me), I want to be clear here that:

  • I’m not a technology purist
  • I’m not a technology minimalist

In other words, I try not to have a binary mentality about tech platforms being good or bad, and I don’t think it makes sense to go “cold turkey” or “abstinence only” when it comes to tech. Perhaps the principles of harm reduction are a better framework for how to limit the bad things about tech platforms and embrace the good things. Additionally, I don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about spending time on social media or in online communities (and I don’t think you should either!). But of those activities are making you feel crappy or taking over your life, then it might be time to make a change.

I’ve been lurking on threads about this not-new-but-new-to-me platform called Mastodon which is a replacement for Twitter but also very much its-own-thing that could complement other social media platforms you use and love. Today, I took some time to lace up my boots and get started.

I don’t think this is a hot take, but Mastodon reminds me of the “early days” of Facebook, where I would log in after school and scroll down to see everything my friends had posted, and then get up and do something else. There just wasn’t a lot of new stuff to see, and everything was from people I knew. Going “back” to that kind of internet is really appealing to me!

getting started (day 0)

The first decision you need to make re: Mastodon is “which server” to join. There are lots of good articles about this and how to find one aligned with your interests. The one I joined is “FOSStadon” which stands for, Free and Open Source. If you’ve hung around TDAA blog for awhile, you’ll know that Open Source is one of my big themes so getting to use social media that aligns with that (in form and content) is exciting!

I chose FOSStadon because (1) some of my friends who I trust are on there; (2) open source = yay; (3) I figured FOSS moderators would know how to handle the technology back end stuff on Mastodon for a sustainable experience; (4) their rules were <Fire Emoji>

Then, you need to follow people! It seems that Mastodon has longer bios, a different set of norms about hashtags, and more privacy features. So, following people takes time and you might not follow as many people as you do on other platforms. I don’t think Mastodon really has much emphasis on “influencers” (they even hide the number of “likes” in the main feeds!) so “following” is more reciprocal and less about passively absorbing posts. I’ve also noticed that the posts are more text based (with paragraphs sometimes!) and less link based.

So, here’s my advice as you get started and curate your feed/experience:

Think about what you want to read (your server)

Think about what you want to share (your toots)

Think about who you want to be connected with (your follows)

When was the last time you asked yourself these questions? It feels liberating to me to get to make these choices and not have them be made “for” me!

getting comfortable (day 2)

Today (as I’m writing this), I took some time to read more how-to blogs, follow some of my favorite twitter personalities, and follow some “strangers” on Mastodon who I found through hashtags.

When I went back to Twitter to find more people to look up, I immediately felt gross.

Scrolling through, I see a bunch of retweets from people I don’t know, thread-listicles, and get-rich-quick schemes that are really not very compelling!

Some things I noticed off the bat in my Mastodon feed:

  • more text, less video, no food videos (not sure if that last one is a pro or a con hehehe)
  • no advertisements, no accounts for brands
  • no notifications for things i don’t care about
  • longer posts
  • I like the “new notification” ping sound, it was cute/pleasant
  • posts are more thoughtful and less hot-take-y

join me!

Here’s my username on Mastodon if you want to find me!

@whysamanthawhy@fosstodon.org

One thought on “i’m learning Mastodon!

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