For nearly all of this year, I’ve been telling people I left social media. But I’m realising now that’s not strictly true.

Although my Facebook and Instagram accounts were deleted, and my Twitter accounts turned into a username parking spot and an automated syndication outpost (before being deleted completely), I’m still fairly social. My activity just moved from the Dark Forest to email, RSS, blogs, the IndieWeb and Cozy Web, and snail mail.

I like these spaces and technologies, finding them less stressful to participate in, and full of interesting stuff that’s more relevant to my interests. Fewer ads, less flaming, more nuanced discourse, context and civil debate.

In hindsight, I realise now that what I left was recommendation media: the beast who murdered the social media we originally signed up for and wore its skin. If something’s smelled a little off in recent years, this is possibly the vocabulary for articulating why.

My old Mastodon account was included in the January purge, but I have a new one now at @jlperidot@eigenmagic.net. I think Mastodon may still be inherently social due to the lack of engagement-driven algorithms (that is, other than our own brains and choices).

It’s a microblog and community platform, and I’m heartened to see more people getting into it, even if the inciting incident and progressive complications leading to this have been stressful. Masto reminds me of Twitter’s good old days, when the timeline was time-based, the heart was a star, Failwhale was a cultural icon, and your feed showed people you followed instead of randoms and ads.

At least from a technical perspective, it’s a platform more respectful of its users and seems to uphold more enthusiastically the spirit of the internet. Things I particularly like about it:

You can follow people in different communities

You can join the Mastodon community (known as "instances") of your choice (eg. Mastodon.social, Romancelandia.club, Aus.social, FLOSS.social) and connect with friends in other Mastodon communities. (Assuming those other communities aren’t blocked, but each community gets to decide who they block.)

Mastodon gives you an RSS feed

https://THE_NAME_OF_YOUR_INSTANCE/users/YOUR_USERNAME.rss

Just replace THE_NAME_OF_YOUR_INSTANCE with the name of your instance, and YOUR_USERNAME with your username. With that URL, people don’t need to be on Mastodon to follow your updates. They just need an RSS reader like Feedly, Thunderbird (yes, the email app), Reeder, or any other RSS app they choose.

You can put content warnings on your posts

Just hit the "CW" in the box where you type your posts (called "toots") and label your content accordingly.

There’s no algorithm and f4f pressure makes no sense

No need to stress over engagement metrics. "Like for like" is not a thing because "likes" are more about bookmarking than training an opaque algorithm. Likewise, "follow for follow" isn’t a thing because following on Mastodon is really about what content you want to see (ie. have the capacity to read) in your feed. You are your own algorithm.

More tips and other articles worth reading

I’m still not properly "back on social media", but am happy to see the landscape shifting, evolving. Hopefully for the better.

from JL Peridot’s blog https://blog.jlperidot.com/social-mastodon/