Fleeing the digital forest fire of Twitter to Mastodon. And email.
How can we transplant a digital ecosystem that somehow managed to flourish at the edges and gaps of surveillance capitalism?
Did I have ‘start a newsletter just to collect acquaintances, because I don’t have their phone numbers and they live all over the world’ on my vision board this year? Nope, all I wanted to do tonight is bake sweet potato brownies, but here we are.
For those of us who went to conferences and traded Twitter handles instead of business cards, then attended Zoom book clubs during the pandemic and visited or moved near these new friends when the borders reopened, this is like watching our forest catch fire - an ecosystem that somehow managed to flourish at the edges and gaps of surveillance capitalism. The intended use cases were written over because life finds a way. I liked it that way. This was the only large platform that didn't manage to engineer away serendipity.
What did I do to mitigate the damage?
I don't know what's the best way forward. I certainly can't rebuild what we had going, but I'll share what I did so far.
1. I requested to download all my Twitter data. Here's how to do that. (Opens in a new window)
2. I went through the list of people I have chatted with and made sure I have another way to contact them. Ideally not another large corporate platform. I’m very grateful right now to people who also have their own websites with a contact page.
3. I revived my Mastodon account (Opens in a new window). Mastodon (Opens in a new window) is a bunch of servers with a charmingly clunky copy of Twitter's functions, where each instance is setting their own vibe, but they are also all connected by people following other people on other servers. I found a fitting server through instances.social (Opens in a new window) a while ago. I always wanted to see how does a social media network look like that's not running on advertiser money! (Is it perfect? Hell no... (Opens in a new window))
And I added my Mastodon handle to my Twitter name. However, if you have a verified account, you can't change your name anymore! "I assume that everyone with holiday joke names is now stuck that way forever." (Opens in a new window) @evacide
4. I ran Debirdify (Opens in a new window) to find people I know who also added their Mastodon handle to their name or bio, so I can follow them. I will keep doing this regularly.
5. I'v set up a bridge between Mastodon and Twitter (Opens in a new window), so I can post the same content on both places for now. It's working, although the latency can be high. And I will also have to regularly back up my account data on Mastodon.
By the way, you can also use Steady (the platform you're reading this on) to finance running your Mastodon instance from the people who are on it.
6. And now I'm setting up a newsletter at the company I work at, with the product I design, so I can keep the friends across countries I lived in, visited or saw as video backgrounds. Compared to reality, my imagination feels a little weak these days.
Did I forget anything else?
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Or just want to keep in touch! I won't spam you.
+1. I will not delete my Twitter account. I may make it private, close DMs and make new followers approval-only, but my username won't be up for grabs, not until the whole things gets unplugged.
Well, this is it for now. Hope to see you here, in the fediverse or maybe in person too!