Let's roll some dice, watch some movies, or generally just geek out. New posts at 6:30 pm ET but only if I have something to say. Menu at the top. email@example.com on Mastodon and @gsllc on Twitter.
A few days ago, I complained about how clunky Mastodon was. I stand by that. However, I managed to figure it out. So, let me tell you some things that, for some ridiculous reason, no one else seems willing to tell you.
First, if you go to Mastodon.com, you’re screwed. It won’t work. So, how do you do it? The best way to get on Mastodon is to know what server you want to join. In my case, I went with https://chirp.enworld.org/web/home. Another popular one for nerds is https://dice.camp/explore. I applied for membership 🙄, which was accepted. Mastadon.social appears to be the baseline, as a few celebrities are on there, but it doesn’t allow signups for some reason (maybe it’s just me). However, I learned that you don’t have to be on a server to follow someone on another server. As long as you see them appear in your server through a re-toot (yeah, their “tweets” were called “toots,” but now they’re called “posts”), you can follow them. I’m not sure how that works, but it does, so there you go.
Now, if I wanted to join a server that’s dedicated to sports, I wouldn’t know where to start. Someone had to give me the name of a server for me to find it. Again, going to Mastodon.com doesn’t help. You just have to know the URL of the server to find it, but for all I know, no such server exists. How could I possible find it?
I’m sure it can be done, but Mastodon is horribly clunky, so it’ll be a slow burn to get there. It’ll also take a while to get followers. To do so, I think I need to pepper my followers on other social media outlets to do so. In other words, the only way to even get on Mastodon in the first place, then to make it work for you, is to use other social media sites. Not a good business plan. Note, however, that there’s a setting in your profile that allows you to be found and promoted based on other members’ searches. It’s off by default, so I imagine you’ll want to turn it on.
Many of my contacts are flocking to Mastodon, so I decided I’d give it a try. That was a waste of time, and I’ll waste no more time on it.
First, let’s discuss what it is to the extent of my understanding.
Mastodon is a group of servers each acting as its own Twitter. You can create your own server with your own rules, which can cover content or speech moderation. In other words, you can say, “No naughty language,” or “This server is for discussing race cars and nothing else.”
So, I decided to create a login. The first thing it asked me is what kind of server I wanted to join. This is similar to what Twitter does (i.e., asking your interests), but in the case of Mastodon, it’s non-optional. You have to pick one. The choices I was given were about 10 in number. If I attempted to search for others, it would search from among those 10 options. I sighed and picked the one that was closest to what I was interested in, then hit “Next.”
Here, I tried to create my account. No matter what I chose as a username or how I modified my password, I received a “forbidden” message. I went to Google to see if I could find answers (Mastodon help is useless) and found this tweet and an interesting reply.
I can’t find anything backing up the reply’s claim, but I did find several other complaints posted over the past week (among other issues), so it’s not just me. No matter how idiotically I’m behaving, if your system isn’t idiot proof, it’s not going to be popular.
But I’m no idiot, which is why I’ve stopped trying.
EDIT: It turns out that I am an idiot. I kept trying and succeeded.
The Facebook police are often on the wrong side of the “law,” but their attitude is no worse than Facebook users who themselves try to police the environment. I wrote about this before. TL;DR, me announcing that I’m leaving a Facebook group is no worse than you telling me where you’re going on vacation next month. At least in my case, I may be helping other people, whether administrators of the group or new members who are trying to figure out whether this group is for them. Your post is just a self-aggrandizing brag.
But that’s okay. Announcing to the world where you’re going on vacation next month is what social media has always been for, so type away. If I don’t care, I’ll either ignore your post or unfriend/block you. (I’m an adult, so of course I’ll probably just ignore your post.)
So, why am I bringing this up? Because of Wordle. The new cool thing to do is to shit on anyone that posts their Wordle results to their social media stream. I get it. You don’t give a fuck about Wordle.
Do you know what I don’t give a fuck about? I don’t give a fuck that you don’t give a fuck about Wordle.
Do you see how that works?
The fact that I’m not quite dead inside allows me to take joy in silly things. It’s a shame you’ve lost that, but that’s fine. I don’t fault you for it. I fault you for expecting everyone else to follow you to your grave. If you don’t like Wordle, too bad. We’re all going to keep posting our scores, and there’s nothing wrong with that, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA HAS ALWAYS BEEN FOR!!!
I think there’s something else going on here.
I find it fitting that the vigilantes are portrayed by the least favorite regular Star Trek character in franchise history.
There were go. Portraying the “victim” as Homer Simpson is self-deprecating, self-aware, and fun in and of itself. Many of you aren’t confident enough in yourselves to play, but unlike this guy, you can’t handle being reminded of it. Telling the rest of the world that they can’t have fun simply because you have issues seems to be in chic right now, but when you do it, you out yourselves for what you are.
While it’d be easy to ignore this as just bitching about a game, it’s a symptom of a larger societal issue in play, which is more easily addressed by dealing with trivial matters like a game. You can’t engage in a logical fallacy and say, “Oh, you want to post about Wordle? So I guess you want to murder babies, huh?” There’s no connection to those two things, so you have to address the point head on without logically fallacious distractions. Hence, this post.
Some of you that aren’t so insecure are still behaving in the same way. Much like the confusion some have over the definition of free speech, you see to misunderstand the purpose of social media. You think it should be a free landscape to do as you choose, and for others also to do as you choose. As soon as someone says something you disagree with, has fun in a way you don’t think is fun, etc., suddenly they’re abusers, bullies, criminals, social media vandals or whatever applies. Sorry, not sorry, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If you insist on announcing whether you think storms are scary or fun, then we’ll post our stupid shit too. Again, you can just ignore us or you can throw a temper tantrum and block 75% of your friends list. We won’t miss you.
Well . . . .
Actually, we will miss you, because Wordle (or whatever the trend of the day is) is a small part of everyone’s total online presence, and we wouldn’t all be connections with one another if there weren’t more to like than to hate in each other’s streams. Most people have at least something to offer me, so I wouldn’t want that to disappear. This is why I suggest you eschew the temper tantrum and just ignore the things that don’t interest you (blocking keywords where possible, such as on Twitter). Even better, join in the fun. If you continue to complain about it, well, that’s what social media has always been for too. I couldn’t stop you if I wanted to. But be honest with yourself: If you’re not being insecure, you’re just being a selfish asshole. It has to be one of those two things, because there’s no other reason to complain about other people having fun and announcing it from their own account. Keep it up, and we’ll start posting our Lewdle and Sweardle scores as well.
Seriously, they aren’t going to stop. It’d be easier not to resist.
But you haters may be in luck. The game may soon be ruined.
For those of you that are not haters but are gamers, here’s a related puzzle that turns out to be a perverse version of a mimic.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must finish packing for Winter Vantasy tomorrow so I can go play my favorite nerd game from childhood.
I’ve written a few times about MeWe. I pointed out that our instinctive dislike of MeWe‘s exposed our hypocrisy with respect to privacy concerns. I talked about how my first and second Facebook suspensions were driving me towards MeWe despite my instinctive dislike. I then took a thinly veiled stab at Facebook. So here I am trying to find a replacement for Facebook, but it’s been tough. Last weekend, I posted the following to Facebook:
I’m really trying with #MeWe, but it’s just not going anywhere.
After navigating my way through some commentary that were mere diversions, I reached a conclusion as to why I’m having so much trouble with MeWe. Sure, the privacy protections make MeWe unwieldy, but that’s because it isn’t meant to be used the way we use Facebook. With Facebook, it’s all about “friendships.” I hate that they use that term. We’re not necessarily friends. “Connections” would be more accurate, but less marketable. Obviously, the latter is Facebook‘s concern, but I digress. To use Facebook as intended, you should have as many connections as possible. MeWe‘s technology isn’t conducive to that, but I get the impression it isn’t meant to be.
I think the idea behind MeWe isn’t about making numerous direct connections. Instead, the idea is for you to join groups that cater to your interests, and interact with people within those groups. That is, you’re not supposed to just post a random thought on your timeline and expect to receive reactive comments from your connections list, nor are you supposed to see the random thoughts of your connections hitting your timeline and giving you an impulse to rant. Instead, you’re expected to do these things within the groups you’ve joined, thus reducing the noise on the site, and avoiding the need to connect directly with other accounts in a way that could compromise your privacy.
And MeWe is great with groups. I’m a member of many music-oriented groups, and despite song lyrics often addressing sociopolitical issues, I’ve never once seen a sociopolitical debate in those groups. We can discuss the lyrics of, for example, Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones, which are about the civil unrest of the 60s, in particular the Vietnam War, race riots, and Charles Manson. As long as we discuss the Stones’ opinions and don’t inject (or at least don’t emphasize) our own opinions on analogous modern subjects, there’s no true mixing of politics and music in a way that spoils the group. If you want to share your opinions on modern issues, there are plenty of political groups available that are designed specifically for that. Go there. You may even see many of the same people there. Problem solved. Everyone’s happy.
In contrast, I’m a member of a Far Side group on Facebook. I’ve never once seen a post that didn’t devolve into a sociopolitical debate. I’m not exaggerating. Every single Far Side post is a debate between Republicans and Democrats, vegetarians and meat-eaters, etc. It’s maddening and typical of Facebook. Perhaps when MeWe gets more popular, it’ll devolve into that as well, but for now, these groups really work well.
So why am I still having trouble with it? Simple: I’m not used to it, and Facebook keeps my brain from adjusting. On Twitter, I have over 40 accounts. No shit. Over 40. I do that to reduce the noise. GSLLC is for gaming, music, and other assorted nerdity, MMADork is for sports, PropertyAtty is for law, and RobertEBodine (seldom used) is for politics. (The other accounts are anonymous satire accounts or related to a gaming project I’m working on.) I’ll never cross those streams on purpose because I’m doing my part to keep the noise down. Nevertheless, even Twitter has the same effect on my brain because none of you follow the same practice. My GSLLC stream is loaded with politics I don’t want to discuss (or even read) there, and filters are only so good at keeping those topics out. As a result, Twitter also keeps my brain from adjusting. Transitioning to MeWe successfully is going to take a lot of work. For me, that’s worth it — I’m very concerned with the antitrust implications of the Facebook/Twitter oligopoly — but I don’t know that it’ll ever be worth it for you (until you’re severely censored).
Plus, there are the small things. For example, I’ve turned off automatic notifications of chat messages, but I still get the audible ding whenever someone posts a group chat message. I can’t turn it off. More importantly, MeWe is missing distribution lists. Google+ introduced me to them because they had them from the start. Facebook eventually followed suit, but not before I had well over 1,000 Facebook connections. It took a lot of work to place all of you onto list. One of these days, MeWe will wise up and introduce them, and that’s going to create a lot of work for me. Finally, I’ll mention that MeWe avoids ads. Hooray! Right? Well, not really. In order to maintain the site and make a profit, some features require payment. We hate ads, but we’re used to not having to pay directly for social media, so most of us won’t pay for those features. Again, it’s our hypocrisy. We’re not bad people, but we’re continually making our own bed with this, and I hope enough people are paying for MeWe Premium ($5/month) that the site stays afloat.
I’m not giving up. I’m going to make this work eventually.
I’ve seen this and similar Facebook groups cited a lot recently: “This group is not an airport, no need to announce your departure.” I know it’s nothing new, but they’re cited even when people are very polite in their announcement.
Do you know what else you don’t need to announce?
What you had for dinner last night.
What you think of voter ID.
Why you bought the car you just bought (this one’s mine!).
Why you quit your job.
Whether you prefer hot or cold climates.
Where you’re going for vacation next month.
Storms: Scary or fun?
Whether you think you have too many keys on your keychain.
How great your new bed is (also mine!).
Why you don’t care that the person is leaving the group.
You don’t have to announce any of those things, but you do. Why? Because that’s probably the most important use of social media. Sure, except for Elvis, it would be awkward to announce your departure, whereas the rest of the list is common party fodder. That said, Facebook isn’t a party. It’s a social media platform. We’re communicating our thoughts, often to strangers and sometimes mundane, in a medium designed for that very purpose. Most of what you say means nothing to most of the people to whom you say it (even at a party of strangers), but the means to say it is a primary reason why these platforms are so popular.
I’ve only once had people do that to me, and surprisingly it wasn’t when I told everyone I was forming an exit strategy for Facebook (so far unsuccessfully). I left an XFL group and said I was giving up on the league because of a tremendous lack of integrity they showed. Officials at headquarters allowed a game to end when it shouldn’t have. The members laid into me. I laughed it off, but some take it more personally, and I thought we were all supposed to be nice to one another.
Instead of telling everyone, “Bye, Felicia,” or posting snarky animated GIFs (pronounced gif, not jif, obviously), how about you just be honest and say, “I don’t care about anyone else’s opinions but my own and those that agree with me.” Someone saying they’re leaving, and especially when they say why, can have value, but only to the open-minded. The rest may continue citing those groups. Which group are you in?
By all means, add a comment that you’re never going to read my blog again, but if you do, please tell me why.
We all know how humans argue. We don’t listen; we just wait for our turn to speak so we can claim our opponent is wrong. As a result, we hear maybe a sentence or two of an argument, then fill in the missing pieces with our own assumptions and prejudgments about what we think our opponent is arguing. The result is that we hear only a portion of what they say, and even worse interpret their argument in the opposite way in which it was intended.
But it’s not completely our fault. Twitter gives us only 280 characters per tweet, and even if we chain them together, people will usually see only a single tweet in that chain. This reinforces our tendency to address only a portion of our opponent’s argument. As the conversation continues and others contribute, the effect snowballs into a real mess, and you don’t always remember to whom you’ve already clarified your points, meaning you make assumptions about what they understand.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Twitter is so popular and that it’s effect on dialogue mirrors the way we choose to discuss politics and religion. We choose to use Twitter because it’s how we argue. The cure to this social disease is to address only those topics that can be covered in 280 characters. If you want to blog, then blog. If you want to write a PhD dissertation, go back to school. Then it’s not your fault when people choose to miss the point. Otherwise, it is your fault.