There are so many social media platforms out there, facebook, twitter, whatsapp, instagram, tiktok, and youtube for example. It’s kind of hard to remember them all. Did I miss one?
Plenty actually, but more on that later.
My main experience with most of these wasn’t something I’d care to repeat. And that is not the free software enthusiast in me or the privacy advocate talking.
What it was? Let’s go through this one by one.
To start with, all these platforms are designed to lure the user back in once they signed out, notifications, endless feeds and always making one feel like missing something whilst not online. And being online 24/7 is not something I would like to be.
To stay on top of all of them, you also have to be on all of them, you can’t for example follow someone on facebook if you are only on twitter. So you have to have more inboxes than I would care for. (Remember I still would run everything from mail if I could).
There is also that little issue of having absolutely zero privacy once you joined up.
But the most annoying thing about them all are the people on there. And I am not talking about my friends. No, the “celebrities” the “professionals in x” the “do-gooders”, “life advisers” and “influencers” always posting some “inspirational” stuff and advice and trying to sell you some random product you won’t ever need. Boosted by your friends, because there is always that one person in your friend circle who falls for one of these frauds and keeps sharing and boosting their S ahem nonsense.
All naturally between posts of food you don’t care about, changed hair colors, been shopping and what have you. Some from people you know have a shitty life and just try to impress others online.
Maybe the experience was different for the rest of the world who is still there, but I never wanted to be part of the “look at me” crowd and I won’t be heading back.
But I still do social media
I have an account on fosstodon, think of it as a twitter for free software folk.
Why? Well not to communicate with my friends, because none of them are there. Not to still some thirst of being famous online or anything like that.
What I found on fosstodon is a community of free software enthusiasts and new online friends, plenty from Austria actually, which kind of surprised me, but most of all, the lack of all above.
I have not yet found a single imposter on that platform (maybe its me, damn it), you don’t get all that stuff sold to you all the time and nobody is bragging about their lifes.
But what do you get?
For one thing a lot of the software projects I use are represented there and not by bots, but by people. For example somewhere around early 2020 I accidentally talked with someone from System76 and we started going back and forth about bulk orders of their computers (nothing came of it, not their fault but the Austria governments). Or staff from Firefox and Thunderbird and OnlyOffice. People who care for their projects and put new infos and upcoming features out there, just like helpful tips.
And more importantly, there is a lot of brilliant folk out on that platform when it comes to anything linux or development related.
And they are happy to help. And I hope that I could help my share of people as well so far and will continue to do so.
Fosstodon is an instance of mastodon, a free software version of twitter so to speak, but there are other platforms, like friendica which works like facebook, peertube which works like youtube or funkwhale which is a spotify-like implementation or pixelfed as an alternative for instagram. And all of them have instances, some focused on areas others on topics.
The best thing about all of them, you can follow someone who is on a different platform, no need to create multiple accounts. (Apart from being more private and free software and all of that). All of them combined in what is called the fediverse. A free software based hub of social networks available to anyone who decides to join in.
There is so much knowledge in there and it is freely shared across the globe. Fosstodon and the wider fediverse for me have become the distilled version of what the internet should have been, a place where information and knowledge is freely shared among peers. Free from spying, adds and controlled information flows.
I am never going back.