Mastodon - Life After Twitter

I have spent a lot of time on Twitter, but it's fair to say I never really liked it. In fact, over the years I developed a love/hate relationship with it where I was either over-using it or deleting everything I'd ever done on there.

In some ways it was useful at times - the infosec community was pretty strong on there, for example - but even as a part of that community twitter always left me feeling like an outsider looking in.

Most often I found myself doom-scrolling following a world event that had annoyed me. It was at least good for getting breaking news or between-the-lines commentary on things.

The worst of it was where I would find myself getting annoyed at things that didn't even really affect me. They weren't necessarily even "bad" either in my judgement. Just that some group was up against some other group over an issue and the resulting fall-out was polarising and, I guess, exciting.

When Space Karen took over twitter I was not hopeful. I had been away from the site for some time but the Conservative party hilarity in the UK had brought me back to observe the insanity. However, following the attack on Paul Pelosi and the subsequent "there may be more to this" post, I'd had enough. US media is already a shambolic, divisive wasteland and this arsehole wading in with this moronic opinion, from such a position of influence was the last straw for me. And so I deleted my account.

So where to next?

There are plenty of other sites and communities vying for a piece of the crumbling twitter empire, but I recalled that I'd signed up a few years previous to a Mastodon community. I figured I could do worse than give that another go.

In the past, Mastodon had felt like a bit of a ghost town. There were a few people on there, some who posted quite a lot, but overall it felt like a bit of a fringe, hobbyist affair.

I dusted off my creds and dived back in.

The whole place was alive! I saw a post recently saying that Mastodon (as a federated series of communities) was now over 8 million people strong. This has been growing steadily over the past few weeks. Certainly compared to the Mastodon community I was a part of a few years back it's a very different beast.

In a different site I posted that Mastodon felt like a lost internet from the 90s. Interesting, quirky, friendly people going about their business and being nice to each other.

In a few short weeks I've rediscovered music as a source of joy - through exploring recommendations of others and reading their reviews. I've found that over the Covid lockdown my weird hobby of taking pictures of various types of mushrooms in the wild has its own niche community out there. I've found that the enough of the infosec community have moved over that I can still follow along.

But most of all I've discovered that the toxicity was a generated feature of twitter, not necessarily of its users. I don't think my interests have changed over the past few months to the point that I'd err towards an entirely different crowd of people. And yet my feed isn't a dumpster fire of hatred and aggression.

The algorithm on twitter that was curating my feed was doing a cracking job of making sure that I was an old man shouting at clouds. Over things - again - that didn't affect me and that didn't need my ire.

Mastodon feels experimental - not only as a technology - but also a revitalisation of a means of communicating with other people with civility, grace, and good humour. 

One user posted the following and the brilliance of it took a little while to sink in for me, but really does cut to the crux of the matter:

"Mastodon has changed how I think. Twitter now seems like a server that doesn't want to federate with anyone else, and that everyone else has blacklisted. I'm in awe of how much sense that makes."

This article was updated on Saturday, 3 December 2022


Father, Husband, Guitar player, Piano-learner, Xbox-player, Metal-listener, infosec leader WIP.