Not that long ago, I was talking about how I’ve been on Twitter for 15 years. At the end of that article, I briefly pondered what the next 15 years would look like.
I wonder if there will be another 15 years.
The writing has been on the wall for a while. If you read that article I mentioned earlier, you’ll see that I haven’t been using Twitter all that much since about 2020. It had to do with me switching jobs; I wasn’t a Community Manager anymore, and I didn’t have to be on social media all the time.
When I started this blog, I wanted to reconnect with people online, so I thought about returning to Twitter. But I found so much noise there, and so little interaction, that it was hardly worth my time.
And then, the Musk acquisition happened.
Some people are leaving Twitter for Mastodon, the decentralized open-source social network. I first heard about it years ago but never really cared for it. Then I read about it again when I started learning about IndieWeb, and I ignored it again because I didn’t need another social network.
Now that it was clear I should look for a Twitter alternative, I seriously considered Mastodon.
The right instance for you
One of the most challenging concepts to grasp when reading about Mastodon is its decentralized design. Multiple instances, or servers, are managed by many people with different moderation rules, policies, and even topics. How do you find an instance to join? How do you choose one when you have so many choices?
- Each server has a local timeline, where you can see posts from everybody on the same server in chronological order.
- If the server you join is poorly maintained or too busy, you may experience lag or degraded service.
The cool thing about this is that you can interact with people on any instance. You can follow people with accounts on different servers and see their posts on your home timeline. This takes some pressure off choosing a server for your Mastodon account.
The other thing to consider is how much you trust the admins of the instance where your account will live. I’ve seen many articles that mention that, yes, there are no private messages on Mastodon. Admins can read your direct messages. But that’s also true for any major social network. The trust I mention here has more to do with understanding that these smaller, independent instances that will host your account may disappear overnight. These servers are not backed by multimillionaires. Most of them are crowdfunded. Most admins and moderators are not employees; they are volunteers.
Running your own
There’s always an alternative: you can run your own instance. If you are tech-savvy, you can follow an easy guide and have a Mastodon instance running in five minutes. You can run this instance for your friends and family or yourself. You can run it for as long as you want, and if you decide to quit, you stop your instance. Simple. It’s what I did with hda.zone. I had that domain name sitting around since my Hijos del Átomo days, so I used it.
We’ll see if, in 15 years, I write a “15 years of Mastodon” piece or a “30 years of Twitter” article. Whichever it is, I feel confident in knowing that, for the time being, I own my data on Mastodon.
So let’s toot at each other and boost each other’s toots. Find me on Mastodon!