Like many of you, after Elon Musk took over and immediately red-pilled the ever toxic viral hot take inducing algorithm-for-profit microblogging platform known as Twitter, I too sought greener pastures elsewhere.
My journey led me to Mastodon, the Twitter-like microblogging platform within the “Fediverse” (which is home to many other platforms as well all interconnected via Activity Pub). I slowly but surely curated a great feed of folks & fresh voices.
Now, every day my feed is populated with a chronological stream of posts by people I follow and their re-blogs. It’s a stream of queer folks, tech people, black voices, music lovers, genX weirdos like me, neurodivergent lovelies, and people with just hilarious posts (I’m looking at you beige.party people).
How did I do it? Over the course the past 7–8 months, I dove down rabbit-holes of re-blogs, cruised the #Explore section of trending posts, following, re-blogging, & favoriting liberally, finding a ton of great people, while sharing my thoughts, comments, life, and hashtagging like it’s 2006!
Engagement was amazing! I have about 200K followers on Instagram and at my peak around 1800 on Twitter, but the engagement with just a small collection of folks was through the roof! And it was actual conversations, you know? Not just “comments” but actual convos.
It was early days of social media before billionaire overlords micro-managed our feeds for maximum profit and boy oh boy it felt so good.
And thanks to Musk ripping 3rd party apps, developers big and small stepped up and over, building an amazing collection of options. On iPhone I was beta testing like 4 apps at one point before settling on Mona, but across Android & iOS, within a few months, you had so many options!
But All Was Not Well In The Fediverse!
Drama was bubbling in the Fediverse, across Mastodon and other blogging platforms like Calckey (basically a more rich-experience version of Mastodon or kind of like Tumblr) and Lemmy (a Reddit-like experience), word was that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, & Whatsapp was working on a Twitter-like platform which could suck away the momentum Mastodon had from the Twitter exodus.
And, to add to the fear, their Twitter-clone, now known as Threads, would be able to connect to Activity Pub, aka the Fediverse, meaning Mastodon & Threads would be able to talk to each other. Would Meta gobble up Mastodon? Eat the entire Fediverse? Ruin the corporate-free decentralized social media universe? EMBRACE-EXTEND-EXTINGUISH!
It was scary that Zuckerberg’s giant shadow could ruin the vibes on Mastodon. Some Mastodon servers were prepared to block Threads from the Fediverse as fast as possible, others were doing a wait-&-see, but then suddenly, last night on July 5th, 2023 at 7pm EST, Threads launched.
Who The Hell Are These People? A Cacophonic Shitshow
Like I mentioned earlier, on Instagram, I have a sizeable following of around 200K. When you first install Threads, it allows you to immediately follow who you follow on IG so of course you say “yes”. Afterall, the point of a feed is to have one and surely you follow those people for a reason already. Boom, check done.
The same would be true for the 200K who follow me on IG, as they install threads, they’ll more likely than not do the same thing. In theory, if every IG users eventually uses Threads, I should have about the same number of folks there to engage with.
So after letting things settle in, I loaded up the feed to see if any of my IG friends who never went to Mastodon were posting anything and that’s when we ran into our first problem… Who the hell are these people???
Apparently, to ensure a busy feed upon launching vs. an empty feed, Meta, in their infinite wisdom, fills the feeds, not only with who you follow, but with every single post people you follow interact with, like AT ALL.
Your friend comments on something? BOOM! It’s on your feed!
Your friend just likes/favorites something? ON YOUR FEED!
With millions of people joining the first night just by the sheer volume of built-in Instagram users (I think they are over 2 billion at last count), my feed was nothing but randos and their junk! Add in the ability to share images, videos, and links with previews, it was a cacophony of absolutely nothing I gave a crap about. Isn’t this one of the reasons why we all left Facebook?
Apparently, the option to only see the posts & re-blogs only by people you follow is only “on the list” of “features” they may implement.
Threads is the answer to the question: “What if we took Instagram’s comment section and just made THAT the new Twitter?”
Imagine an active comment section on an Instagram post on someone you follow. Not great, eh?
Now imagine that same comment section, make it infinitely long, AND give users the ability to include images, videos, and links that you can’t avoid seeing.
Yeah. Threads already sucks.
Don’t get me wrong. I think people will use it, it’s already got millions of users just by existing. Mastodon is not even on the radar of most people online, especially instagram users. They like centralized services, instant followings, and all want to be the next big thing. Even AOC, who shunned Mastodon, but hopped on Bluesky as fast as possible, was already posting on Threads.
But even though it’s trying to be the “new Twitter”, the vibe is still very “Instagram influencer”. Meaningful engagement in a pile of white noise of people trying to be the next dril will be few and far between for the regular user.
UPDATE: It Somehow Gets Even Worse!
It’s been less than 2 days and holy hell, I didn’t think Threads could get worse for me.
Not only is it still a cacophonic shitshow mentioned above, but now it’s also me seeing all those interesting people, places, & publications that I followed on Instagram over the years reacting & replying to celebrities & brands like Dunkin Donuts and fucking Paris Hilton.
Or worse, seeing celebrities & brands replying to each other.
A Plan Forms: How I’m Going To Subvert Threads!
I’ve got an idea. Nay! An evil plan!
I mentioned above how Threads was built to connect to Activity Pub aka The Fediverse. These means that once this is turned on, people on Mastodon, Pixelfed, Calckey, etc, should be able to follow Threads users and vice-versa.
But a second part of this is account migration.
Currently on Mastodon, if I’m on one server, like mastodon.social but decide I’m not happy there or whatever and decide I want to be on beige.party or mstdn.social — I just like the users there, I like the vibe, and I like the way they moderate & run their servers. Great! No problem, you can just migrate to the other server! All the people you follow and all the people following you migrate too, so your feed stays the same, your followers stay the same!
It’s a smidge techy, but there are user guides. The only bad thing is your posts don’t migrate — but I set my posts to auto-delete after 6mos anyways on Mastodon (I think all social media should be ephemeral), so no big loss for me. I’ve already done this twice.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, But What’s The Plan?
Meta has said that account migration will be possible between Mastodon & Threads soon after joining the Fediverse.
Once this turned on I’ll first migrate my @firstname.lastname@example.org account to Threads, combine all those users, THEN immediately migrate from Threads back to Mastodon!
Suddenly, all those Threads users are now following a Mastodon account, seeing Mastodon posts & reblogs in their feed as I share all the beauty of the decentralized, corporate-free, algorithm-for-profit-free, Fediverse of servers & platforms!
And sure, initially to the Threads user, it may look as though their feed is filled with Tamarians speaking a baffling language with new words like “defederate” or “instance” or “misskey”, but just as Picard eventually understood, so will some Instagrammers and maybe, just maybe, some of them may just crossover.
Who knows! It may just happen to you.
Until then, I’ve already started popping on Threads to preach the Good Word of the Fediverse…
One convert down, 2 billion to go!
PS. Mastodon is filled with cat pics too, especially on #Caturday… just sayin’.