Mastodon and the “Fediverse”

Update: I’m doing an AMA (ask me anything) on Mastodon today, December 18.

Over the last week, my opinion of the Mastodon project and software, as well as the “Fediverse”, has completely changed. I was pretty skeptical of it, but after giving it a chance, I’m participating and having fun.

Let’s rewind back to the skepticism. It started with the name: Mastodon. It doesn’t sound very inviting. Some people might even reach for Masta instead of Masto when spelling it. And decentralized social networking? Like a “web3” thing, with hexagons.eth/NFTs/glowing-eyes involved? Fortunately, no, but I think I was right to be concerned.

I love Twitter, full stop. But after everything that’s happened in the last few weeks, I wanted to start hedging against Twitter falling out of favor with the people I enjoy following and joking around with. Interacting with people on Twitter has facilitated some of the best moments of my life and I’m afraid of losing that.

Here’s what happened: I signed into my neglected account at mastodon.social1. I used a web app called Fedifinder to start following people who I follow on Twitter. Then, I started reading my timeline and found it to be relatively relaxing, warm, and fun! The energy and atmosphere feels a lot more positive than what’s happening on Twitter, at least right now.

If you haven’t tried a Twitter alternative2 yet, I think you should give it a shot. A change of place can yield a pleasant chance of pace, and the web is at its best when people are trying things.

Not convinced? Try out a Twitter alternative just to spite3 Elon Musk. Musk is an tireless sycophant and petty tyrant who purchased one of the world’s most entrenched networks. It’s 100% worth trying to stick it to this man.

If you make it over to a platform that implements ActivityPub, the federation protocol that Mastodon uses, you can follow me at Please say hi; I’m always looking to make a new friend. :)

To finish this post, here are my answers to some of the questions that I see and hear people asking about Twitter and Mastodon right now.

Is decentralized social networking harder to use than One True Website/App?
For most people, absolutely 100% yes.

If the “Fediverse” is to grow, isn’t it a problem that it’s harder to get started on than centralized social networks?

Is Mastodon a Twitter replacement?
For most people who use Twitter, no, not today. It might not be for a long time, if not ever.

Will there be growing pains as more people try it out?
Of course.

Do I need to be there? Am I missing out?
No, you aren’t; relax.

Will decentralized social networking “win”?
I don’t know what it would mean to “win”. I’m not sure I find that framing helpful.

Are you hoping for decentralized social networking to “win”?
No—I’m just vibing. Something doesn’t need to succeed by traditional metrics or last forever for it to be good or enjoyable or worth doing.

  1. I have since moved to a different instance. Something that’s really cool about the protocol that Mastodon operates on is you can migrate your followers to a different Mastodon instance. I think that’s really cool! 
  2. Besides Mastodon, Cohost seems like a great solution for posting and interacting with people. 
  3. I’m being cheeky here. It’s not at all clear what, if anything, harms a billionaire incapable of shame.