Okay, so for those of you not used to it, here’s your warning: this post will have some *profanity.* Those of you who actually know me will not be surprised by this.
So first, in the ways that mostly count, Mastodon is better than Twitter. Now, my Twitter experience was better than most because I never used the official Twitter client that inundated you in shit. I used Twitteriffic, because, and I know this is just weird as hell, when I use something that sucks, I look for a replacement. That doesn’t suck.
Like were ya’ll getting handies or something from Twitter for using the “official” client? Because it was either orgasms or the most astounding case of Stockholm Syndrome ever, no one puts up with that much pain for nothing. Wait, it was like the IPA thing wasn’t it? You convinced yourself that if you just drank enough shit, it’d taste like ambrosia after a while.
So even with my “don’t just stand in the effluvial stream” habit I have, I do like Mastodon better. But like Carlin once said…the people.
First, the overpopulation of effete honkies in Masto is…like being in a Hellman’s factory in Weston. The overweening sense of entitlement, and just happy-go-lucky willingness to tell Black people, Indigenous people, other People of Color that they need to, when talking about how on a daily basis, Western European society is literally dangerous to them on every level, that they need to hide that behind a Content Warning, CW, because it’s disturbing Bramberly’s daily positivity meditations. I got nothing. Like, I have no issue with CW’s because they are useful. They do have value. I didn’t always get them, but you grow, you learn, you empathize, so yeah, CW’s are a generally good idea.
But not when used by honkies to preserver order over justice. Yeah, no.
Then there’s the “JuSt MaKe YoUr OwN InStAnce/FiNd a BetTer InStaNcE” lot, which is the response too many flavors of Mastonerd has to every fucking complaint about how mastonerds act. Listen, it’s a social media platform, not the lost tribe of Trevor, we are not walking the earth until we find the perfect place. This is not a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series from the 1970s. There’s two aspects of this that bother me. First, that is literally the tech version of “If you don’t like it here, go back where you came from.” Secondly, it’s a pathetically transparent attempt to segregate “those people” into redlined instances so they can be defederated (guillotined from the Fediverse at large) and ignored. I literally saw, and was appalled by someone suggesting that anyone engaging in protesting should have to do so from a special instance/server so that this person could filter it out when “they just weren’t up to deal with it.”
Well Jimothy, Black people just aren’t up for being attacked for existing, yet here we fucking are. Reminds me of the people who were more angry that protests against police brutality were messing up their commute times than you know, Holman Square.
Honkies gonna honkie.
Then there’s the recreation of OH GOD, AOL JUST CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET vapors.
Like I know nerds are the most gatekeeping assholes who ever lived, they’re better at that than whatever it is they’re a nerd about, and I know they’re the worst kind of petty, delicate jerks, but dear god, you wanted people to see that Mastodon/Fediverse was better than Twitter, but somehow you expected them to…leave their POV and worldviews back on Twitter and silently comply with how you want things done? Do any of you, A N Y of you ever deal with other humans? That was never going to happen, you don’t even do that yourself. Don’t even front, I’ve seen you walk into someone else’s space and demand you be catered to by the locals. Don’t cry when you get what you send out.
Like yeah, I get it, it sucks, you had this quiet little space, and now thousands of people a day have realized you were right (why can’t nerds ever be happy with being right?) and are showing up, and they’re doing what all people do in a new sitch: clinging to the familiar while they adjust to the new. “They expect it to be like Twitter!” you all sniff. No kidding, of course they have that expectation, Twitter was all they knew. WTF, you expect signing up for an account on a mastodon server shoves the knowledge of the ages into your brain? Ye gods, y’all need to take some social science classes.
Then there’s the “two legs good, four legs bad” shit with every suggestion that not every feature Twitter had was evil. Like Quote-Tweeting, QTs. Oh. MYGOD, the drama that is causing. All the objections to QTs boil down to one of two things:
- Twitter had it
- The only use for it is abuse
As for the first, Twitter had posting, you seem okay with that. Twitter had retweets and replies, you seem okay with that, Mastodon is literally based on the Twitter concept. Grow up.
As for the second, every feature of social media can be used for abuse. If you think it’s impossible to stampede, dunk on, or abuse people without QT’s, you clearly follow no Black people on Mastodon, for if you did, that fantasy would be blown out of the water. It would be yeeted from your mind. Well, maybe not, honkies, (and by and large, the source of all the crying I’m talking about are thoroughly mayolenated) gonna honkie. But no, there is value in the QT concept, and the whole OMG TWITTER thing is just stupid. First, a core reason behind the ways QTs could be used to abuse people was the thing Twitter has that Mastodon and the Fediverse at large are deliberately constructed to not have: a central controlling algorithm. I know Mastonerds know that, it’s practically the subject of every third sentence they utter.
Without the algorithm, a huge chunk of the abuse is not possible. Now, you can still use QTs to be an asshole, but that goes for every other feature of Mastodon. Given how badly the protocol manages link preview bandwidth, you can be a far bigger asshole with some REST magic and an image search. I don’t think we will demand the removal of link previews. As well, you can indeed simulate a lot of the QT featureset manually, which makes the arguments against properly implementing QT’s weaker, not stronger. The thing is, some of the ways you can simulate it, specifically screenshots are more suited for abuse than the core QT featureset. It also raises ethical implications if you’re wanting to QT artists. May raise legal implications too, but definitely ethical ones.
It is entirely possible to implement QTs in a way that provides what most people want, the ability to add one’s own context to a post without requiring abuse. (When properly pressed, the OMG QT ARE TEH DEBILLL!!! lot will admit that. But it takes some work.) Replies don’t do that, nor do retweets, nor do overly tedious combinations of the two. (I will not be using the word “toot”, that makes my skin crawl only slightly less than spiders. It just does.) As many Black “Mastonauts” have pointed out, the QT is a valuable feature in their communities, and I agree, personally, with all their reasons. Sometimes, I not only want to boost a post, but add my own thoughts. I don’t necessarily want to reply, because they’re not reply kinds of thoughts, they’re just “Hey, so this is a thing, and it reminds me of this other thing I think relates to it that y’all might want to read about” thoughts that one wants to share with one’s audience. That’s not unavoidably evil, it is not a form of abuse, and unlike screenshots, it does not effectively cut off the person who’s thought you’re adding to from things.
As well, given Mastodon and ActivityPub, the idea you can’t implement this in a manageable configurable way is nonsensical. What this reminds me of is back when HTML email was this radical thing and when people tried to say to the PTB behind various email protocols “No one cares if you like it, it is going to happen, people want to do actual bold and italic text and put a fucking picture of their dog in their emails” the PTB stamped and pouted and said “we can too stop it AND WE WILL!!!”
How’d THAT work out Skeezix?
(Before you get too smug about early Outlook, the HTML implementation in Apple Mail is nothing to be smug about.)
Implementing QTs with management features at the instance, account, and client level(s) is absolutely possible and a good idea, because here’s the thing…
At some point, someone with a decent client is going to add it as a client-side feature, and then, my angry flailing nerds, you’re fucked. Just like the email versions of you were with their impotent tantrums which caused far more problems than a grown-up approach would have caused. As Angry Drunk pointed out, almost all the features of Twitter that people just see as part of things first showed up in clients. Including the concept of a Twitter client, and the word “tweet”! It is going to happen with, or without you, and if you set aside your reflexive I DON’T WANNA tantrums about it, you’ll realize that saying “since it is going to happen with or without our approval, let’s implement it in the protocol in a way that allows it to be managed well and for abusers to be more easily cut off at the knees.” One of the better ideas I’ve seen is to have it disabled by default and then either enabled by the individual or the server admin as they see fit. A decent client could help make this not as tedious as possible, so sure, ship in the “safer” mode. That’s a good, constructive approach. Better than throwing your toys out of the pram like y’all are currently doing.
Finally, the OMG CAPITALISM and STOP TRYING TO JUST BOOST YOUR FOLLOWER NUMBERS. Look, I agree Capitalism is bad, but as someone so deftly pointed out commerce is not capitalism. There are a lot of artists of various stripes, and other people who relied on their Twitter audiences to feed and clothe and house themselves, and I am not going to dismiss people who make money from social media as a thing either. Until we reform society, you have to engage in some form of commerce to survive in this world.
L I T E R A L L Y
Mastodon is no different. Artists et al need followers, it’s how they survive. So instead of shitting on them, figure out ways to help them establish themselves on Mastodon so they can keep making art and doing the things many people appreciate, and/or love them for. When a writer talks about a deal in their ebook shop, just let it go. Don’t fuckin’ hector them for contaminating your purity with their inconvenient need to eat.
Mastodon et al has a lot of potential (although the hagiographies about the paradise of the early web need to stop, y’all are literally lying at this point) and I think that because it is distributed, it will be a lot harder to stop as a vehicle for improving social justice and the human condition. It is at least possible for a dictator to shut down a single service like Twitter when they get up to their foolery. Shutting down mastodon is like trying to drink water with your fists.
But the gatekeeping shit has got to stop, christ, it’s like the early days of Twitter/everything else on the internet all over again.