New Years Eve Social Media Musings

Me blathering like I do about social media, which I think Truman Capote predicted in “Other Voices, Other Rooms” (Can’t be sure, haven’t read it yet).

I continue to use and love mastodon, despite it’s foibles, but I have a better idea of why I love it so much: It is because I am a pig searching for drama truffles and Mastodon is the perfect little forest full of the roots in damp, loamy soil that said drama truffles love tor grow on, but it takes time and requires digging to find the best bits. Mastodon has the usual sorts of forum drama (is this moderator/admin good at their job or do we need to pillory them? Is this troll good at their job or do we need to oust them?) but with better controls about when and how you see it and only letting things fully blow up when they are really egregious/juicy.

I mention community because in social media, the spectrum for experience for most of the users tends to go from “community” to “audience”. Social media tends to do well when it picks and maintains what it’s for. Facebook was definitely the leader for “community” interactions pre-enshittification (It was where you find your family and friends and everyone you care to keep speaking-to from college and high school and easily caught up on their lives until Facebook decided to hide them from you to instead show you ads for crap) and it’s attempts at making audience interactions (pages and ‘verified special high-visibility user/business’ accounts) were ham handed and expensive. Twitter was the leader for “Audience” interactions pre-enshittification “You can follow [celebrity] and [politician] and we’re making sure it’s Actually Them and if you follow the reverse bell curve of thoughtful reverence or absolute fuckwad you might get the boon of your antics being re-shared and getting you attention!” But it’s more community oriented attempts always felt sort of invasive and creepy (“Hey, this person seems to follow a lot of the same people you do, wanna be frieeeends!?”).

It’s also interesting because most people really want to be part of a community but really don’t want to become part of an audience unless *they* chose to do it… but all the Big Money in Social Media is in trying to circumvent that ‘Hey, wait a minute! This isn’t a community, this is an audience!’ uncanny valley that most humans tend to have… and that’s a bad thing to circumvent because that breeds icky parasocial relationships always end up getting really toxic. And those Audience-that-looks-like-a-community toxic parasocial relationships are exacerbated in places like Patreon and OnlyFans and Twitch and especially a lot of Discord and Telegram servers to which a regular subscription buys one access.

Mastodon is very very very community oriented. The only times I see a business active there they read like etsy side-gigs that have turned into an Actual LLC or long running small businesses that has gently expanded to online marketing… and in both cases people in the community like the stuff and keep re-sharing it (I think my exposure to this is because I am in a lot of knitting/crochet/weaving fibercrafty communities which were like that from the start of the Internet). If you ever feel like you are part of an audience on mastodon, it’s a coffee shop hosting a small band or a poetry reading or convention sales-booths. Not some venue that TicketMaster is overcharging-for.

I feel like my evolution on this front is that I no longer seek to begrudge content creators going back to twitter or trying out the algorithmic greener pastures of BlueSky or Threads. Mastodon seems to have been custom created by and for people who almost violently eschew being made into an audience. A lot of the content creators trying mastodon as an alternative to the dumpster fire of twitter were turned off of mastodon because they wanted an audience and instead got forum drama (and forum drama always presents as ‘Yeah, yeah, you’re art’s great, but that doesn’t mean you get to spam or skip the formatting/posting guidelines more than once before people start to sass you” to them) which means they flounce. And a lot of mastodon users love that because nothing is more forum-drama than a flounce. Everyone on mastodon has no qualms telling whatever person who thinks they’re hot shit leaving in a huff to not let the door hit their ass on the way out.

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