“While I would love to find a Twitter alternative, this feels more like a ‘find your niche’ combo of Tumblr and old-school forums, but you can apparently follow people across forums/instances? Unlike most recent social networks, I can at least wrap my head around this one… somewhat.”
It’s been four months since I left Twitter and re-engaged on Mastodon after briefly giving it a spin back in 2017, and since I moved my account to zirk.us, it has comfortably settled in as an enjoyable part of my daily digital diet.
I still don’t consider Mastodon a straight Twitter alternative — at least not the Twitter we’ve come to know during the Trump/Musk Error — but it has replaced the Twitter I used to know and love back in the day. I’m no longer getting a steady feed of breaking “news” and half-baked hot takes, instead relying on a few trusted news sources and our local regional newspaper, which also syndicates national news stories from the bigger papers in their print edition. I’m not drowning in a raging feed of varying relevance and quality anymore, and while I’m missing a lot of publishing industry chatter, I’m also not really missing it at all. *emoji shrug*
My feed is calmer on Mastodon as I’m slowly and deliberately rebuilding my network while rethinking how I want to engage on social media moving forward. (aka, #SocialReboot) While some have jumped in and immediately tried to replicate their Twitter experience, loudly complaining about missing features and/or lack of immediate gratification, the majority of the people I’m following are patiently finding their footing, figuring out how to take advantage of its more appealing strengths.
I’ve been particularly engaged in some of my side interests like gaming (hello, Shadowrun! hello, Marvel Snap!) and New Jersey (?!?!) and meeting interesting people through hashtags like Black Mastodon and running, or local feed serendipity, most of whom would have never crossed my radar on Twitter. I’m still posting links related to publishing, media, and marketing, but far more selectively. Most importantly, I’m treating it as the satellite it should be rather than the hub Twitter had become despite my knowing better, and occasionally expanding on thoughts in a blog post on this here blog!
Decentralization means choosing the right instance can significantly influence your initial experience, and it makes certain things more difficult, including linking to great hashtags like #mosstodon. I have no idea what you might see at that link, and if you’re on a different instance than me and check the hashtag there, you may see a different mix of posts. The same applies to user profiles, which is probably the most legitimate criticism I’ve seen.
It’s part of Mastodon’s charm, but it’s definitely not for everyone, especially not those who have built a platform primarily around “reach” and vanity metrics.
The issue, according to both articles, is that because a ton of people signed up to check out Mastodon in November and December as Elon Musk began his program of Musking up Twitter, and not all of them decided to stick around, that proves the site is a failure. Except, that’s wrong on so many levels.
Contrary to some self-serving media coverage, people continue to sign up and kick the tires — most surges apparently align to Musk’s latest shenanigans, which I’m blissfully unaware of most days — and a lot of them are sticking around and, like me, enjoying the experience.
If you’re considering checking it out, or landed on one of the larger general instances and don’t feel like you’ve found a home, I’d suggest checking out zirk.us, the instance I’ve been on since late November and started supporting financially as of last month. It’s still relatively small so the local feed is often interesting and rarely overwhelming, and no one’s complained about my current Shadowrun obsession yet!
Here’s some other instances I also considered, the first of which I moved the day job to after some moderation concerns developed with c.im, and if I ever had an issue with zirk.us, would be first on my list to move to.
“Universeodon.com is a space for all humans who have a little curiosity.”
“A small, intentional community for poets, authors, and every kind of writer.”
“The Wandering Shop is an instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. Our local timeline should have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention.”
“Remember when you first heard about Black twitter and thought it was actually a separate website? Was that just me?”
“Fosstodon is an English speaking Mastodon instance that is open to anyone who is interested in technology; particularly free & open source software.”
“ohai.social is a fast, secure and up-to-date Mastodon server where everyone is welcome. Join us!”