Wednesday, April 12
I registered an account on mastodon.social a couple of months back
and lurked a little. The vibe was a little heavy on the whole gay communist
furry post-tumblr thing for me to feel like I had a whole lot to add
personally, but it seemed like an interesting enough little corner of the
network all the same.
Then the other day circumstances (and Sarah Jeong) conspired to
bring it to the attention of the disgruntled-with-Twitter internet, and it got
a bunch of extra signups and traffic. So far, despite an influx of longtime
twitterites, the dominant style is a lot less rampagingly negative than a lot
of places. It’s also heavy on programming, mental health issues, formulaic
denouncements of capitalism, and reflexive Twitter-bashing. Most specific
political content outside questions of software architecture seems to be
culturally discouraged, though it’s starting to filter in.
Maybe more importantly over the long term, it’s built on GNU
Social et al. and takes seriously the idea of a guaranteed-open
implementation (AGPL!) and a network federated along the lines of
old-school services like e-mail. Clients talk to a server, but servers are
many and interconnected, while the identity of the user is bound to a server
instance rather than global to the network. There are problems, but from first
principles it’s a more hopeful of an effort than I expect from things that can
gain traction on the internet in 2017.
Of course things could easily enough go to shit at any moment, and it does
nothing to solve the problem of whether doing things on the public network is
a good idea at all. All the same, it feels like a better effort
than yet another centralized service.
ignoring the internet
Outside of that one specific thing, I have been basically ignoring what happens
on the internet, especially the corners of it that are routine for professional
nerds and people with an interest in politics. Which is probably detrimental
to both my career and my capacity for civic involvement in the long term, but
greatly increases the odds that I can work my way through any given waking day
without falling into a crippling despair.
I recommend it unreservedly, and hope that I have the strength to continue it
as a practice.
I’d like to work out a way to keep having political knowledge to the extent
that it informs my actions in a useful way, but I’m pretty sure spending all of
my time paralyzed with anger and disgust doesn’t do much for my political
efficacy or my relationships to other human beings.
don’t write the comments
A related thought: I kind of stopped writing so many comments on websites, and
I sure do feel like less of a full-time asshole.
“Don’t read the comments” has gotten pretty well ingrained in the general
understanding (if not the general behavior), but I think it probably doesn’t go
far enough. It’s not just that they’re usually a bad idea to consume. It’s
that undertaking their production is on average actively harmful.
The exceptions are real, but rare.
tags: topics/federation, topics/mastodon, topics/twitter, topics/warelogging