Three thoughts from a Mastodon newbie

19th November, 2022

I’m not the only one to have hopped from Twitter over to Mastodon in the past few days, I know. But perhaps these three thoughts will be useful to others.

First: it’s not that hard! Come on in, the water’s lovely! I’ve seen quite a lot of scary-seeming stuff about the learning curve but the interface and the experience is really not that different from the good bits of Twitter.

Yes, you need to pick a server but you can always change if you don’t like your first choice – it seems to be very easy to do that. Ask a friend, take a look at what the people you might already follow have done (I’m on the EconTwitter server…), or just plunge in. Learning by doing is the way!

Second: in one particular way it’s outrageously harder than it should be: you can’t bring your Twitter network with you. Think about email; if you switch email, you can autoforward all your old incoming email to your new address. You can port over all your old contacts. There’s absolutely no trouble sending email from Gmail to Outlook and back again. We just take it for granted. Same story with your mobile phone; you can switch service provider AND NOBODY WILL EVEN KNOW.

Similarly, you should be able to send your Mastodon toots to all your Twitter followers, and read all the Tweets you like through the Mastodon interface. The same story should be true for Facebook, Instagram, and all the rest. (Here’s a lovely essay by Cory @Doctorow on this point.) It’s an astonishing failure of public policy that regulators aren’t mandating interoperability from Facebook, Twitter and the rest. This stuff should be so easy, but it’s not a mystery as to why Big Tech would like it to be hard.

Third: stop and think for a moment. If you loved Twitter and hated what it became, or you still love Twitter but fear what comes next, then you should absolutely be trying to re-establish your network on Mastodon. But… did you love Twitter? Or did you just feel it was something you should do?

If you slipped into a Twitter habit by accident, and felt it was a source of anxiety and a time sink that got in the way of what you really valued… this is a wonderful moment to just STOP. The world will still be here.

If you like what I do – for example – my books, Cautionary Tales, More or Less, my FT column, and the RSS feed / email updates of my website will all still be here. The same is true for other creators & commentators you might want to keep in touch with.

Twitter was never the best way to experience any of that, and while I admire Mastodon, it won’t be the best way either. Make an active and deliberate choice, whatever you choose – and good luck!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This