As promised, here is the first of my Social Media Revisited posts.
I’ve been using Mastodon for a couple of months now, and it has quickly become my very favorite place to go online. There are a number of “how to” posts and articles out there already, some of which I will link at the end of this one, but here I will talk about my experience and how I made it work for me.
First, a quick definition: Mastodon is part of the Fediverse which is an entire system of various social media sites that are hosted on a large number of servers around the world by individuals. There is no single individual or corporation that controls what is posted, by whom. These sites – of which Mastodon is only one – are comprised of thousands of “instances” which you can think of as groups or forums. An individual can start an instance on a server, set the tone, rules, and topic (if any) for that instance, and maintain it.
Here is the beauty of it all: One can use any particular instance(s) but can still see what’s going on in other instances, if one desires! Whenever I log on I can choose to see only “toots” (same as “tweets”) only by the people I follow, or only in the instance I belong to, or across the fediverse (read: EVERYTHING!). There are also similar privacy controls for what I post.
Those are the basics, and really all you need to know to start exploring Mastodon. Now, here is my own experience with it, right or wrong this is how I got my start and how I use it. After a couple of months I am FAR from an expert, but I’m comfortable there.
I first went to https://mastodon.online/about and made an account there to get started and look around.
Next, I searched for an instance using the keyword Jesus and got one result, so I joined that instance to get a feel for everything. After meeting some really lovely people and new friends, THE INSTANCE WENT DOWN! I really really loved that group of people and interacting with them, and was crushed! I knew that I liked using Mastodon – a LOT! – however, so I found another instance to join. I had seen quite a few posts I liked that came this instance, so I joined it. Similar experience: very nice welcoming people there, and I was enjoying it greatly until my original INSTANCE CAME BACK UP about a week later! I think I heard angels singing…
So now I had joined 3 instances and was happy as a clam, though I don’t really use the mastodon.online much anymore…
A few more useful things I’ve learned in these early weeks:
- I’m not a huge fan of reading the Fediverse feed. This feed consists of all the toots from everybody everywhere. And yes, there are all kinds of people in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to read everything they write. However, I do use it to build my list of users to follow by finding toots that appeal to me. So it is useful for that, as well as for input when something newsworthy happens in the world, because everybody has an opinion, and because many of them share the actual facts (usually using links) of said event.
- The Home feed is my favorite. This feed contains the toots from all of the people I follow.
- I use the Local feed quite a bit. Depending upon which instance I’m signed into at the time, it just contains toots from the people there. This feed isn’t useful when I’m logged into mastodon.online instance but I nearly always use it for the other two instances.
- I keep 2 browser tabs open in my social media browser so that I can switch back and forth between my 2 favorite instances easily. (This is not a different type of browser, it’s just the one I use for social media activity.
- Though I use an app on my phone – Husky – I also use my phone’s browser as it gives me more options. For example, my favorite instance allows 5000 characters per toot, whereas the typical instance only allows 500, which is what Husky also allows, everywhere.
- A bonus is that you can also send private messages.
People compare this to Twitter (from which I have happily departed) but I think it is more like the IRC in days of yore before google took it over, when it was still run by the users and speech was still free. Twitter now censors and blocks users, using its social clout to allow only communications with which it agrees and forcing communications to persuade users to come around to its way of thinking; that is something that can’t happen with Mastodon (or anywhere in the fediverse) due to its very structure.
If you decide to join Mastodon you can find me as ChiaChatter OR ChiaChatters – I won’t go into the reason I have 2 accounts but you’ll find me – if you want to – if you use the search facility once you establish your own account.
As I explore more of the Fediverse I will post my experiences here. But in the meantime, I’d suggest you read Getting Started With Mastodon and How Does Mastodon Work? both by Kev Quirk. And if you’re REALLY hungry for information, get a good overall view of the Fediverse on which Mastodon operates. I do plan to continue to explore and use other networks as I have time but for now I’m really enjoying the people and what they share on Mastodon!