Woke up thinking about how different Mastodon feels (even now as its culture has shifted a bit from what I was seeing a year ago) compared to other social media.
Other, generally shareholder-value-focused, services hold you in not only through natural human desire to avoid hassle, but through intentional design. The walls of the walled garden ideally look nice, but they will be raised if people start to wander.
Here we can the landscape around us & inviting other places we might be.
When we can see where we are & compare it to other places / ways of doing, we are subtly reminded to consider “Is this how I like it best? Is there a better way of doing this? How might I want my ‘this’ to change? Should I change my current ‘this’ or move to a different ‘this’?”
Open networks invite the questions:
“How can this provide more fully for individual people here?”
“How can we learn from each other?”
“How can we assist each other in making our days better?”
This gentle, constant slope toward “better for people” (rather than “better for extractable financial profit”) which is makes me deeply excited about Mastodon and the Fediverse as a force for human good, for Earthly good.
I know from living it that gently, consistently asking “How could this be more awesome?”—the perpetual upgrade of Discardia—is life-changing, and has the capacity to be world-changing.
I know the little changes add up, and the more of them we make, the happier we get.
This thinking is happening against a backdrop of watching Twitter get so much worse, but seeing people I admire still pouring out their creativity into that broken vessel.
I’m watching CNN shifting from its flawed but functional shape to another clickbait site, with weak or non-existent journalistic decision-making. Breathless articles that ask no hard questions. Sensational headlines. It worries me because CNN wormed its way onto TVs in public spaces as “neutral” but it grows ever less so.
It feels as if rather than trying to get viewers who wouldn’t have watched Fox News or read conspiracy websites to do that, are having their normal interfaces turn into propaganda and radicalization channels. That if they (we) just sit there and do nothing, they’ll (we’ll) start to see a different, scarier, world than they used to. That their growing fear / sense of being wronged will prime them for authoritarianism.
So how do we work against that?
How do we help shift people away from media that grows increasingly harmful to them & the world?
We make that not be the place where the best stuff is happening.
Make that not be the place where much of any good stuff is happening.
Stop posting on Twitter.
If you’re financially dependent somehow or otherwise constrained & can’t stop, then post there later. Put up your content on Mastodon & your own website first. Then link to it from Twitter.
How do we help shift people away from shoddy journalism & authoritarian-empowering news sites?
Ask the obvious questions the journalists didn’t ask. Ask journalists why they didn’t ask those questions. Put the pressure on for the media to do better.
Link to good articles with smart questions & praise them for it.
If sharing shoddy articles, contextualize the shoddiness in the first post, not with just snark but with the big unasked question. Ideally link to a better article.
Wield their past, better journalistic performance against papers & websites & journalists. Call them on slipping standards:
“I’m frustrated why you aren’t bringing the kind of rigor you brought to your articles in the past to this latest work. Why didn’t you ask X? You say Y, but that’s from their press release, & other sources say that isn’t true. I know you can do better; it’s why I started reading you.”
Point out when things are getting worse. Don’t let bad ‘new normal’s go unnoticed.