As I posted on Twitter a few days ago, Elon Musk’s ownership is causing a lot of Twitter regulars to rethink their commitment to the platform. Personally, I have invested a lot in the Bird since joining in 2009 and so I am reluctant to storm out of there merely out of sheer petulance. Better, I think, to take a wait-and-see approach and give Elon a chance to salvage it or to burn it to the ground.
But it does behoove regulars to have a contingency plan or Plan B. Once upon a time, I viewed Google Plus as an alternative but it proved to be a virtual ghost town until Google pulled the plug on it. If Twitter keep imploding, perhaps the folks at Google will think of giving it a go again. But in the meantime, there are still LinkedIn and Facebook.
While in Spain this month, I started to experiment with the platform that seems most likely to accumulate disaffected Twitter users: Mastodon. (spelt with the letter o in two places, NOT the letter “a”!
Unlike the centralized Twitter platform, Mastodon is decentralized and that’s the first thing you need to know about it when signing on. First you have to pick a server, which is run by volunteers around the world. I picked one of the few (or only?) Canadian ones: mstdn.ca. It’s also called Mastodon Canada and bills itself as being run by Canadians for Canadians
Perhaps it’s too early to say, or that it’s wishful thinking, but it seems possible that a critical mass of disaffected Canadian Twitter users may be building there, including a subset of Canadian financial tweeters; I mean tooters!
For me, Truth Social was never an option, for reasons that should be obvious, given its ownership. If there are other Canadian Mastodon servers and there may be, Google Canadian Mastodon servers.
Mastodon takes some getting used to and the learning curve seems steeper than Twitter was in its heyday. At the same time, it’s fun to give one’s atrophied social media little grey cells a new workout, and it’s a learning experience to see new networks and patterns of networks evolve almost from the ground up.
It was helpful to be fairly early with Twitter and in the same way Mastodon has that pioneering feeling here in November of 2022, the first full month of Elon’s Twitter ownership. Mastodon has been around much longer but there’s little doubt there is now a wave of Twitter users descending on the place. Most of the new arrivals admit they’re looking for a possible alternative, or don’t really know why they are there, and most either need a bit of help or encouragement or are a bit more experienced and willing to offer assistance to the newbies.
In fact, mstdn.ca is so new they are still asking for volunteers to moderate and assist with the technical side for those who have the skills. They’ve also just set up a PayPal account to accept donations to offset the server costs.
Be patient: give it time
The first thing I noticed was the delay between signing on and getting a reply to confirm your email. Expect this to take a half day or so and resist the urge to sign up to another server if your first choice is slow to respond. Note that you can download (free) a Mastodon app for both iPhone and iPad and I believe the same goes for Android, although I have not done it myself. It may take a day or two but eventually the blue logo shown above should show up on your phone and be available to share media content in the same way one might do with Twitter, Linked In or the others. You can also access it on your laptop or desktop.
My handle is similar to the one at Twitter: JonChevreau@mstdn.ca
For the most part, Mastodon works like Twitter: you can like (a star) posts, you can retoot (as opposed to retweet), you can reply and all the rest. At least initially, as on Twitter, it makes sense to do reciprocal follows: if someone has taken a chance on following you, odds are they will appreciate a follow-back. Seems to me here in November 2022 that everyone is learning a new social media system at roughly the same time and building their networks basically from scratch. It makes sense for Canadians to support Canadian Mastodon servers although it may not be necessary: if you have a particular interest in certain specialties and you can find a server that caters to that, then go for it. Again, it’s more decentralized than Twitter and moderation practices will vary accordingly.
By all means do your own research on the pluses and minuses of undertaking such a transition. One place to start is this Yahoo link titled “From tweets to toots.” My Twitter feed contains other recent links on Twitter and Mastodon, including one posted by Dale Roberts (@67Dodge at Twitter and hopefully soon @mstdn).
Hope to see you all on the other side!