A love story about the Fediverse

In the course of the recent Twitter exodus, I decided to dust off my old mastodon.art account from 2017. I remember abandoning the account as quickly as I came back then because I didn’t know what a Fediverse was and the Mastodon community felt pretty much dead compared to my chosen home, Twitter – but since a couple of my online friends went to make an account the other day, I decided to give it another chance.

It took me a couple of days to understand the concept of the Fediverse, but I’d like to say that I’m slowly getting the hang of it – and the more I learn about it, the more I like it.

How it started

As someone who works in UX/UI, I found myself facing an absolute usability nightmare at first. I felt like Mastodon was like a shitty version of Discord, where there’s no such thing as a central account, but you’d have to make separate accounts for each channel (= instance) you want to hang out in. Since I personally prefer not having to juggle several accounts, I had to make a tough choice: Was mastodon.art going to stay my home of choice, or should I join metalhead.club, dice.camp, or something completely else? As someone with a wide range of interests, I didn’t like the prospect of being “stuck” in one particular instance as opposed to being globally visible for everyone like on Twitter. Eventually I threw in the towel and decided to remain on .art for now and see where to go from there.

So I vented a little, seemingly sitting on my lonely little rock in a huge and foreign instance – and suddenly found an uplifting comment from the instance admin in my notifications. Wait, what? We have an admin who is a real person AND cares about their users? Yes, indeed!

How it’s going

I learned about how to use the right hashtags, set image descriptions for the visually impaired and which content warnings were common practice. Turns out hashtags work globally! This is one of my favorite things about Mastodon which eased my fear of being stuck in a small bubble with impenetrable walls. No matter what instance you post from, your posts (= toots) tagged with hashtags will go beyond your instance and be seen globally. Sweet!

I suddenly found myself surrounded not only by fellow artists, but also by lovely members of the metalhead and tabletop RPG communities. Complete strangers would follow, favorite and engage in conversation like we’ve known each other for years, and I quickly made new acquaintances. This felt completely different from the Twitter experience. It felt actually wholesome! No pissing contest in order to appease our almighty overlord, the Algorithm™, no fav-and-run – there was actual, authentic conversation, helpfulness and genuine interest and appreciation of one another.

Love at second sight

Usually, the Twitter app was the first thing I opened in the morning and the last thing I checked before going to bed. Now I catch myself checking Mastodon way more than Twitter. On some days, I don’t open Twitter at all.

In retrospective, Twitter feels like one of those loud, crowded clubs with a gross, sticky floor where you’re required to scream at each other, keep stepping in beer puddles and there’s always some drunk asshole who starts a fight. Hanging out on Mastodon feels like sitting in a cozy pub with lots of cool people and nice music playing in the background. Some bearded guy shows you a picture of the most recent addition to his family of potted plants and you compliment on his choice, then the both of you drink to that and proceed to reminisce about oldschool video games.

Now what?

We’ll see how it goes when the hype dies down, but for now I feel like I’m pretty much over Twitter, despite it being my online home of choice for an entire decade. Scratching the surface of the Fediverse changed something in me, and logging into Mastodon feels like coming home from a long work day, swapping those denim jeans for sweatpants and just being your authentic self. It’s incredibly healing!

If you’re considering to join, feel free to use my invite link to the mastodon.art instance or look for a suitable instance here. One of the cool things about Mastodon is that you can always migrate accounts and take your followers with you in case you end up wanting to move to a different instance.

See you on the other side! 🐘💨 *toot*