I found this an eloquent explanation of emotions and feelings I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks as the Fediverse has been ‘invaded’ by people considering themselves ‘refugees’ from Twitter.
As Hugh Rundle points out in this post, some of us have already mourned what we’d lost with Twitter and had made our home in a comfy, homely new place. There were rules, both implicit and explicit, about how to behave, but now…
For those of us who have been using Mastodon for a while (I started my own Mastodon server 4 years ago), this week has been overwhelming. I’ve been thinking of metaphors to try to understand why I’ve found it so upsetting. This is supposed to be what we wanted, right? Yet it feels like something else. Like when you’re sitting in a quiet carriage softly chatting with a couple of friends and then an entire platform of football fans get on at Jolimont Station after their team lost. They don’t usually catch trains and don’t know the protocol. They assume everyone on the train was at the game or at least follows football. They crowd the doors and complain about the seat configuration.
It’s not entirely the Twitter people’s fault. They’ve been taught to behave in certain ways. To chase likes and retweets/boosts. To promote themselves. To perform. All of that sort of thing is anathema to most of the people who were on Mastodon a week ago. It was part of the reason many moved to Mastodon in the first place. This means there’s been a jarring culture clash all week as a huge murmuration of tweeters descended onto Mastodon in ever increasing waves each day. To the Twitter people it feels like a confusing new world, whilst they mourn their old life on Twitter. They call themselves “refugees”, but to the Mastodon locals it feels like a busload of Kontiki tourists just arrived, blundering around yelling at each other and complaining that they don’t know how to order room service. We also mourn the world we’re losing.
I was a reasonably early user of Twitter, just as I was a reasonably early user of Mastodon. I’ve met some of my firmest friends through Twitter, and it helped to shape my career opportunities. So I understand and empathise with those who have been mourning the experience they’ve had on Twitter — a life they know is now over. But Twitter has slowly been rotting for years — I went through that grieving process myself a couple of years ago and frankly don’t really understand what’s so different now compared to two weeks ago.
There’s another, smaller group of people mourning a social media experience that was destroyed this week — the people who were active on Mastodon and the broader fediverse prior to November 2022. The nightclub has a new brash owner, and the dancefloor has emptied. People are pouring in to the quiet houseparty around the corner, cocktails still in hand, demanding that the music be turned up, walking mud into the carpet, and yelling over the top of the quiet conversation.
All of us lost something this week. It’s ok to mourn it.
Source: Home invasion | Hugh Rundle
Image: Joshua Sukoff