There are a few unsolvable questions in my life. What iPhone will I actually use? Which read it later service is the best one? Will I ever stop changing notes apps and actually write some notes? Perhaps the biggest ones revolve around social media. I haven’t been happy with my usage of it for years, but still as yet can’t find a solution.
This is frankly a ridiculous issue to have, but my feeling on Social Media boil down to my relationship with Twitter. I love it, well perhaps loved is the better word. The microblogging service has meant I have met some really awesome people that have become close friends, but has also ruined my attention span and given me a boredom avoidance crutch for too long. I am in many ways thankful the billionaire baby ruined the experience, so I could fully leave. Since then, I have spent too much time worrying about where to spend my time.
I still found myself bouncing around from app to app when boredom struck, and having too many places to check, transferred my addiction rather than solved it. So, with a great deal of trepidation, I decided to go all in on micro.blog and forward my Mastodon account to it. One app with all of my social media usage in it was a risk, there are some massive advantages but also so downsides that I have to think about.
Although micro.blog uses ActivityPub and allows you to follow any other accounts that use the indieweb protocol, it isn’t Mastodon. As such, there are things that I miss out on. The most obvious being that it doesn’t show boosts. This is a bit of a controversial point on Mastodon, but this removal has actually improved my enjoyment.
I was one of the people that was calling for Mastodon to introduce boosts with comment, but now I really do understand why it isn’t there, and I really enjoy not having boosts at all. Admittedly, it does cut down on discoverability a bit, but I maintain that good people to follow will always come around. I love the interaction and conversations on Mastodon, and these still show up and allow me to still find new people.
Using micro.blog I also cannot see any local or federated timelines, so some openness of Mastodon is cut off. The flip side is that I am not lost scrolling through lists and feeds looking for something to entertain, and overall has made me ‘check in’ much less. Only worrying about the last few things that are happening and my mentions.
Being the worrier that I am, giving up control of my one sole access to social media is a bit of a gamble. What if micro.blog were to suffer an issue, or stop working completely? Perhaps they change the way it works by some way I don’t like, or increase the pice by an untenable amount. Much like Twitter, micro.blog is controlled by one person who makes all the decisions, but I trust Manton a lot more than I trust Musk.
Being a smaller used service, there is not the choice of apps that there are for Mastodon. Although everything is open source, the demand does not facilitate numerous apps being created. The official app is fine, but this is something to be aware of when you’re all in on a service. It could be worse, I could be forced to use the WordPress app!
Diversity Of Followers
Having used micro.blog on and off for years, I am aware that the people who make up its user base tend not to be very diverse (with exceptions of course). The barrier to entry of the service tends to mean that the topics discussed are very cyclical and insular in nature. Whereas Mastodon is the opposite. Although a little nerdy to understand, I have found a far more diverse set of people to follow than I ever did on Twitter.
Making sure that this exists is an important way for me to gain a wide range of opinions on topics. By adding in Mastodon, I feel this is much easier to achieve, although I do feel as if this may be harder going forward given my inability to browse timelines and not see all posts. However, by being mindful of this, I should avoid building myself an echo chamber.
Removal Of The Social Media Trappings
Using micro.blog also removed all the follower counts and social media shenanigans that taint any service. Granted, Mastodon does not use ranking algorithms and the like, but does have hashtags that are gamed and some users that yearn for attention. This is all stripped away on micro.blog and Manton has been clear that he will continue down this line. In his words, “compatibility with Mastodon lets us support the good things that Mastodon has accomplished, while still carrying forward what, I think, are the unique strengths of Micro.blog.”
Lack Of Mute
One part of Mastodon I absolutely loved was the powerful muting. I quickly set up a range of filters that meant politics nor Twitter craziness graced my feed. None of this exists on micro.blog bar muting users. I have hope that perhaps this will improve in the future, however as yet I have not seen any of this. I have a feeling that boosts may cut a lot of this out, however I will need to keep a real eye on things.
With all things said it does worry me having one point of contact with all of the social web, but so far I have found it very calming. I have removed the issues surrounding consuming the internet in bit side chunks and calmed down my feed. How long this confidence lasts will be interesting but at the moment is has been a good decision. I own all of the content I put out now and it is all on one place, syndicated to wherever I want it to.